Kirsten’s Story

Kirsten’s Story

When I was at Fort Sam on active duty army orders, getting training to become a medic, one of the first sergeants raped me in the back of his vehicle. When I reported that the first sergeant raped me, I said I didn’t know who he was at first because I was in shock and couldn’t believe it myself, so I didn’t think others would believe me. I went to the hospital and talked to CID and then when I got back to my company, my commander was there and I told him what happened. I told him it was that first sergeant and he told me, “No, it wasn’t” and that no one would believe me and to keep my mouth shut. I just said, “Yes, sir” because I didn’t want to argue.

The next day, I talked to CID and they asked me who the assailant was. I said I didn’t know since my commander said no one would believe me. My commander continued to tell me not to say anything and that if I did, there would be consequences and I would get kicked out.

My commander counseled me for not having a battle buddy when the assault happened. Then a couple weeks later, CID talked to me again. They said they had a match on my assailant’s DNA and they needed me to confirm who it was. They showed me pictures of the description I gave them and sure enough, the first sergeant was in there. I was terrified about getting kicked out, so I said it was none of them. They kept asking me if I was sure and I said yes. When I got back, my commander asked me what CID asked me and I said they had a match on my rapist’s DNA. I was then counseled. My commander was trying to administratively separate me, but after a while, he realized I’m not a bad soldier and I really didn’t do anything wrong. So then, my commander sent me to the ER saying I was suicidal, so I would be hospitalized, even though I wasn’t suicidal at all.

This ordeal continued for a while. I started having panic attacks because I would see the first sergeant all the time and my commander was threatening me. So lo and behold, my commander sent me to Behavioral Health where they put me on a ton of meds I didn’t need. Behavioral Health wouldn’t believe me when I said I didn’t need to be medicated; only my commander believed me. My commander kept sending me to the ER, and finally he told Behavioral Health that I needed to be medboarded.

After my class had graduated, my company was on break, so the holdovers were sent to the company my assailant was in. The first sergeant raped me multiple times again while his company was in charge of us. Once my company started back up again, I was sitting in the day room when my commander came in. He said that the first sergeant wanted to see me. I asked why and he said to just go. I asked if I could bring a battle buddy, but he said no. I insisted on bringing one because I didn’t want to get in trouble for not having one again. He said no again. When I went into the first sergeant’s office, after some talking, he raped me again. Later that night, I reported this after my commander and the first sergeant went home. At first, I filed a restricted report then I changed it to an unrestricted report because I wanted proof of why I was having a panic attack if I had another one. The next day, my commander talked to me and asked what happened. I told him I was raped again and he counseled me for the very thing he denied me – not having a battle buddy. I freaked out and told him I was leaving, so he sent me to the ER. He told them I was suicidal again and that I wanted to go AWOL – neither of which were true –so again, I got hospitalized.

I searched and read everything there is to know about SHARP. That’s when I saw a thing called “expedited transfer.” I told my commander I wanted one and he said I didn’t qualify for it. So I thought maybe I read it wrong. But when I researched more about expedited transfers, I realized I did qualify for it. I wrote a memo for an expedited transfer, went to my commander, and told him I wanted an expedited transfer and that if he didn’t put it through the chain of command, I was going to get ahold of my Senator. He said no at first, so I got ahold of my Senator, and they started looking into this issue.

My commander was contacted by my state and the base commander was contacted by my Senator. They sent up my expedited transfer. It got denied, sent it up again, denied, and then it was sent a third time. It took three weeks to get the third one approved when it is only supposed to take a maximum of 72 hours. Also, it was supposed to be signed by an O7, yet it was signed by an O4. In any case, I finally got home.

Last September, I went back down to Fort Sam with the chief of staff of the Iowa Guard to fight my medboard. I ended up losing and was medically separated for PTSD. The Board already had their mind made up beforehand, so I had no chance. When I did my expedited transfer, they were supposed to counsel me saying that I would lose my education, health, and other benefits, but they didn’t so I had no idea. My commander forged my signature on the paperwork so it looked like I was counseled on these things.

I literally got nothing out of the two years I was in the military. Now, I talk to units about what happened to me so they can put sexual assaults and retaliation into better perspective and realize that this actually happens a lot.

Some days really, really suck, but then I think about how much I have to look forward to. I will probably never tell CID who my assailant was because I don’t want to go to court. I know how difficult it is because I was raped multiple times during my senior year of high school by the photographer who took my senior photos. I reported that too, right before I went to basic; there were 36 other girls who reported the photographer had assaulted them, too. I went to court for that last November and it destroyed me, I was a complete mess during court and afterwards for a while. So I don’t want to go through that again.

It sucks a lot, but I can’t let it hold me back from everything that I still have yet to do in my life.