that1chick, United States Army
In 1995 I was Department of the Army selected (DA Selected) to be a recruiter. It was the most exciting time of my military career. Shortly after I finished recruiter school, I was promoted to Staff Sergeant. I believed in the Army and the NCO Creed and tried my hardest to live up to it. I believed that the Army had my back as long as I did what was expected of me—as long as I made mission.
When I got to my recruiting station in Chicago, the first thing my station commander (One of two names I will never forget) SFC ****. told me was he did not want me at his recruiting station. I should have taken that as a warning. This was the beginning of my hell on earth existing as a recruiter. In 1996 I was raped in that recruiting station by a Marine recruiter.
The next day, as a way to cope, the words of the NCO Creed resonated in my mind as I worked like a robot trying to make mission. I tried to bury what happened to me in my mind and continue my mission. I was a nervous wreck I was scared to run into SGT **** (the other name I will never forget) as I tried to do my mission. Finally, a friend in another unit, SFC ****, drove me to the police station –because I wouldn’t go myself out of fear–to file reports with them and NCIS at Great Lakes.
What a joke that turned out to be. I did the requisite rape kit and police report a few days later. I went through with it expecting to be protected and validated somehow. The local police told me they could not assist me with what happened because I was in the military. I was stonewalled by NCIS when I tried to press charges against SGT ***. Once the case was closed, I became the source of insult, ridicule, and gossip. NCIS even told me I should have been grateful that a Marine raped me.
I was rejected and dehumanized by everyone in my unit. I had a scarlet letter on my forehead. I constantly had migraine headaches and anxiety attacks because the battalion abandoned me –no one had my back. No one wanted to work with me –I had no way out of recruiting duty so had to complete my mission. As I struggled to hold onto my dignity and integrity, I became the problem child of the battalion. I almost never made mission because I was blackballed.
The MEPS disqualified my applicants so I had to work weekends to try to do it. SFC **** refused to transfer me out of the recruiting station or assist me in any way. The entire battalion knew what happened to me, they whispered about it and called me a slut and wacko behind my back. The female recruiters denigrated and rejected me as if I was lying about being raped by the bastard.
I had to look at my rapist every day for six months until my complaints finally reached the brigade Sergeant Major. He forced SFC **** to transfer me to another recruiting station. The rumors got to my new recruiting station faster than I did. The transfer did no good, nothing changed. The command ultimately continued to disqualify my applicants so I would not earn my gold badge (even though I had the points) when my tour ended.
Even after I left recruiting I was blackballed and as a result lost my career in 1999. In 2000 I enrolled in school to put the pieces of my life together and build a stable life for myself. In hindsight, I now realize how naïve that was. Since then, I can’t recall a time when I was totally at peace during that tour or since then. I was even going to the DOD websites to see if the bastard was killed in Iraq. Back then, I felt like a failure and I am still haunted by the memories. I still like a handicapped woman. It takes a lot for me to trust males.
Over the years, because of the lack of resources back then, pre 9/11, I had been laid off from jobs because I did not know how to manage my disability to function. With help from my family, I found resources for help. Still, in the veterans’ community MST survivors are often not recognized. There seems to be some stereotype or prototype of disabled veterans. When I got rides in the DAV van to my VA appointments, the other male veterans looked critically at me as if I didn’t pass muster or they hit on me. When it dawned on me that going to the VA in and of itself, was a trigger of my disability, I talked to my doctor to find safe places for me to go when I came for appointments. I continue to be optimistic by keeping my faith in God because he is my strength and my help.