Stephanie Kalota’s Story

Stephanie Kalota’s Story

I was finally unpacking boxes to decorate our house. And then I found this; it was my holster for my 17-month deployment to Kuwait (07-09). Of everything I had while I was deployed, this gave me the most feels.

While there, I was aware of how vulnerable I was as a female. There were tons of rumors of sexual assault. This holster hid my M9 pretty well if I wanted it to; it was my deterrent if it ever happened. But then when I redeployed, thinking I was safe, I was assaulted. And what I stored in this holster wasn’t there to protect me. It’s been 12 years and 2 months.

There was a lot of harassment and assault that led up to this incident, and it wasn’t from the same person. At the first Field Training Exercise with my hometown Army Reserve unit, the first sergeant encouraged me to drink and continued drinking until I was almost blackout drunk, and I was 20. What I didn’t realize was that he was trying to get me blackout drunk. Luckily a few female sergeants got me out of there. The first sergeant retired after this weekend, and I can only imagine how many he may have successfully assaulted.

When I went to Fort Eustis, VA to reclass to 88N, I was assigned to a reclass company that included many prior service soldiers and was ran by cadre. This cadre constantly flirted with me, harassed me, and rarely looked at me in the eye. Because I didn’t play along with whatever they wanted, I was put in trouble and was constantly doing punishments with the cadre. I had one cadre enter my room and pretended that my wallet, cellphone and etc was stolen but only he took it. The cadre also spread rumors that I was a slut and constantly clubbing despite my so-called hip injury. I was 20, so there was no way I could go into those local clubs. When I was assigned night CQ runner for Friday, I was placed at the first-floor front desk, so when all the drunk male soldiers came in, they found me. I was constantly harassed and also assaulted when they tried to drag me to a room, office or throw me across the front desk. When the CQ found out what was happening, he just ran them off and then had me sit in the CQ office while he sat at the front desk. Following this class, an instructor got my contact information. He started a friendship, but it escalated to stalking and he attempted to take our friendship to the next step. I threatened to call the cops, and thankfully he left me alone.

Before my husband deployed, he attempted to get me pregnant without my consent. He finally stopped after I cried and pleaded with him to stop.

All this happened before I turned 21.

While I was getting ready for my own deployment, I was constantly flirted with by the sergeant first classes and E7s. One of them checked with me if I had all the Humvee keys after a convoy, I tapped where they were and then he proceeded to ask me questions to get me to tap the keys again. Until I realized what he was getting at, the keys were in my chest pocket, where my left boob was. Another time where I felt oogled, was when I was eating an ice cream cone. A table of the same five E7s was watching me eat that ice cream cone, after embarrassing me the same E7 came over, sat next to me and watched.