Ryan’s Story

Ryan’s Story

I am currently a Staff Sergeant in the US Air Force who was sexually assaulted in 2012 on a deployment. My troubles began when I was deployed to an undisclosed location in 2011. The team I deployed with in my prior Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) sort of knew about my orientation, despite me keeping it completely secret. I was hazed and discriminated against by my team throughout the entire deployment, despite having above average evaluations from my command during the first part of deployment. Prior to my deployment I even had a recommendation to go to the Air Force Academy, but my application was denied right before due to my prior AFSC leadership stating that they “did not want a f****t in their chain of command.” I was devastated but did not report it out of fear of further reprisal.

During the latter part of 2011, the discrimination and harassment was so extreme I filed a formal complaint against my chain of command, which only caused further reprisal. The harassment was so extreme that I had to go to the Chaplain constantly since there was no mental health clinic on base.

In January 2012, I was sexually assaulted and was broken beyond belief afterwards. I did not report it because my chain of command was already against me. And I did not want to be sent home to face potential discharge and an investigation.

Upon my return of my deployment, I spent my entire deployment savings on a psychiatrist to “fix” my orientation so I could feel accepted and hide the shame of my sexual assault. The therapy did not work, and I continued to struggle.

After having a mental breakdown in front of my supervisor, an unrestricted report of my assault was made. I was ordered to go to mental health for treatment, diagnosed with PTSD, and started receiving treatment. As the investigation was worsening, I lost many relationships and my ex-husband ended up abandoning me due to the very bad situation that was plaguing my life.

In June 2013 I ended up trying to retrain early, but was denied due to my subpar performance reports. After being under much duress, I ended up reaching out to someone in the Chaplain Corps who had been monitoring my situation for many months. After much thought, I ended up breaking confidentiality with him, and he then submitted a formal complaint on my behalf. I was then ordered by higher headquarters for a mandatory retrain and Permanent Change of Station (PCS) into another AFSC.

Upon my arrival to my new base, the physical and mental ailments began to catch up with me. I began seeking treatment at the new clinic, getting some relief. Over the next few years, I struggled in and out of the clinic, being diagnosed with PTSD again and other mental/physical ailments that were interfering with my duty performance. After going over my options, I concluded that I should go through the Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) process and leave the Air Force since I began feeling like a burden to others on my ship.

As I began pushing for proper treatment and exploring the option of getting out, the mental health clinic on base began building a case against me with an errant diagnosis. I spoke out against their providers, calling them “abusive” and wishing for second opinions. After much fighting, I got an off base referral and began to get proper treatment. Despite the pleas of my off base providers to properly evaluate me, the clinic refused their input and stated that they have plenty of experienced providers and would not give me an impartial review. They stated I would be leaving the Air Force with a diagnosis of personality disorder/malingering and said they hope this “teaches me a lesson.”

I am now fighting for a proper MEB without prejudice and am hoping my story will cause some awareness to show that this is still a problem within the military system.

I decided that I will have a voice. I can make a difference. I will make the right difference to speak out against the injustice of this very corrupt process. Speak up. You have a right to your benefits and to be taken seriously.