I went into the military in the delayed entry program before I graduated high school. I decided fairly early in my senior year of high school that I was going into military service. By the time the recruiter came to my house to get the paper signed by my parents, my family had been working diligently to get me not to enlist. I had not yet turned 18 and would not turn 18 until that summer. I needed my parents’ permission to go into the military. I had chosen an MOS, knew my duty station, and had a date to leave for basic training.
No one had ever said anything about sexual harassment, sexual assault, or being sexually violated in the military. I had heard about the rigors of basic training, challenges I would face during basic training, and the feelings of accomplishment once I was done. During basic training, one of the drill sergeants was demoted due to “fraternization” with multiple recruits. At the time, it never crossed my mind that those women could have been sexually assaulted or abused. It never even crossed my mind to wonder. I thought how awful it was that anyone could lose his or her career because of sex.
Within 90 days of getting to my permanent party duty station, a senior NCO took me to a secluded area off-post and raped me. Because of my previous respect and high regard for him as an NCO, I thought, “I must have done something.” I retraced every step and word in my mind over and over as I walked back to the barracks and contemplated suicide. That would not be the last unwanted sexual contact I had to endure. The incidents of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual touching went on for over a year before I reported it in a written statement, filled out by my current female NCO and her supervisor.
Within a few months, I was systematically forced to exit the military before my extended enlistment was completed. My first sergeant came to my barracks room to have me sign papers to quietly leave and had my household goods orders within days. If I didn’t sign them, there would be other papers to sign to charge me with various bad conduct and a loss of an honorable discharge.
The extreme agony and anxiety I felt while I was in Germany made me have a voluntary and dangerous, angry streak. Fighting and risky behaviors followed. It took over 22 years to finally get some type of grounding from what had happened.
I still have anxiety and sleepless nights. When will the military system change and focus on protecting those who serve from serial sexual criminals? Thank you Protect Our Defenders for continuing to lift up the arms of the weary through your outreach and support programs.