Valori Slaughter, United States Army
My name is Valori Slaughter, I joined the Army on December 16, of 1996 and was discharged February 7, 2008 after over eleven years of honorable service. I left the Army with a misconduct narrative because I spoke out and stood up for my rights. This is my whole story:
February 1999 I gave birth to a little boy as a single mother at the age of nineteen. He is now thirteen years old. He is the result of being raped by a recruiter, I was told by my local jag officer that they would not pursue him for rape. He told them he never touched me and a CPT from the Oklahoma Military Department JAG stated that because, “He is an E-7 with a meticulous record and I’m an E-3, who did I think they would believe?” Young and naïve, I believed that they would believe me because I was telling the truth. I was wrong and they explained that too me, despite of my three month old son who happened to also be evidence sitting on my knee. The Major who spoke to me in the presence of now State Command Sergeant Major of Oklahoma as my witness, asked me to please not go to the media in exchange for help with DNA to establish paternity, and at the least gain financial support to help raise my son.
My son is thirteen and DNA has never been established. I had planned on transferring into the Active Duty side of the United States Army and due to single parenthood was held from my goal until 2005. At that time I did make the transfer and join the Active Duty side of the Army. It was a dream come true, and I had long time awaited for the chance to truly serve my country, I felt a strong calling to do so. Financial situations caused by problems from military pay began Causing strain on my family with no money or food; unknowingly coping with past triggers from my assault I found myself in Darnell Hospital on a three day suicide watch after attempting to end my life. The same week that I had been released from the hospital after attempting suicide my squad leader a SSG found it necessary to have me sign a counseling statement releasing him of all liability so that he could bring me to the rifle range. Shortly after the range my husband and I learned I was pregnant. Due to the pregnancy I was transferred into a battalion that was standing up in attempts to give me a little extra time with my child after birth. This battalion was new being completely stood up from scratch. All soldiers were transfer soldiers. I was placed in Delta Company 3/227th Aviation Regiment 1st Cavalry Division, 1ACB, Fort Hood, Texas.
My unit was deployed in October 2006 into Taji, Iraq, just three short months after giving birth to my now five year old son. I went to my command and requested a waiver from my pregnancy profile, I wanted to be there with my unit from step one and participate with them all the way through, this would be my second deployment and comrade is built in the building and tearing down phases of an deployment, I sincerely wanted to be part of my unit. I was able to move back into my shop in November of 2006. This is when the first signs of harassment and inappropriate behavior started appearing. I started being hazed by my squad leader, making me carry an ammo can with, “I lost my ID Card” Painted on the side, and carried on with other forms of hazing all documented in my board hearing. In March another NCO within my section started showing me pictures of his exposed genitalia, and one evening while doing a ground guiding mission he ordered me to come help him. On our 2AM mission in pitch dark he asked me to hand me my hand, not thinking anything of it due to the nature of our job I found myself being forced to touch his erect exposed penis. The next day I approached Sgt R who was my squad leader with that information and he promised he would handle it. Over the course of the next few months not only did the behavior from the SGT S not stop but the behavior from Sgt. R became very sexually charged. Sgt R was now taking advantage of the situation with SGT S and sexually harassing me himself!
My First Sergeant temporarily moved me to work Battalion level with Sgt. S which was a relief to me. I was happy to be out of the situation completely. The things that my squad leader asked me and the comments that he made were completely not called for. Things like, “do I shave my kitty?” and more and worse. I finally had opportunity to turn in the situation on a Command Climate Survey so that I would not have to face further harassment. I figured this way I could address the issue without attracting any more danger. And I could keep my name completely out of it. In my board proceedings my Sergeant First Class admitted telling his NCO’s to break the confidentiality portion of the survey and find out who answered yes on that survey. So my NCO only had 6 women in our section and he directly confronted all of us. I was not going to lie, but made it clear that this was information given on a Command Climate Survey Anonymously. After being questioned for over an hour by SFC V I finally broke down and told him who and what, he said so that he could prevent this behavior further.
A 15-6 investigation was then prompted as a result of the Command Climate Survey and when responding to a question that asked me at what point did I feel uncomfortable and did it step over the line of being professional to being unprofessional. Apparently the fact that I was there for that conversation being harassed opened me up for an Article 15 for Inappropriate Relations with an NCO. As part of my Article 15 I was given 14 days additional duty where I was supervised by both the NCO who sexually assaulted me, and my squad leader who sexually harassed me following the sexual assault. I confronted my command with this issue and asked to be moved, this request was also submitted in writing to my Brigade Commander who declined my request. I challenged the Article 15 with my chain of Command and had letters written in my behalf to senators and congressman relaying the treatment I was going through. I could feel my eleven years of service being taken from me. I was stripped down to E-3, spoke to my Brigade Commander on the 14th of September who in the presence of Chaplain Fox stated to me that there was not enough information to merit removing me from service. I was informed my congressional had hit on the 16th, and told that my Brigade Commander had changed his mind on the 17th. Before my board I asked to speak to my Brigade Commander again so I could ask directly why he had changed his mind. His response was along the lines of my behavior being that I left the day room crying and such made me look vulnerable and somehow welcomed sexual assault and harassment. That is paraphrased, but I do have the whole conversation on audio and also have had it transcribed as much as possible for evidence.
I was accused of crying wolf, and told by my First Sergeant that there is a Rampant problem in our brigade and that is the reason why I must have a female in addition to three other people in the room with us when speaking to me. And probably the most shocking event was in my actual board hearing when my Commander openly admitted that he felt like I caused the harassment and assault committed against me, and acknowledges not only that he knew that I had been assaulted but that he did not feel the need to report it to the Criminal Investigative Division. The week before my misconduct board I was raped. The soldier raped me, and told me he picked me because he knew my Command wouldn’t believe me. I reported this rape to the Chaplain who over saw the Mudd House, I turned it into to the Psychologist right after the fact, and was blown off, literally told by the Psychologist that Taji is not the time to get my feet wet. I was not going to be believed. At the least he proved that in the Army’s eye rape is nothing. I kept the rape to myself until after my board proceedings because I feared that my Command would use it against me just as they did in my Article 15 hearing. I was discharged fully honorably with a misconduct narrative.
I was told so that I can go to the VA to seek medical help for the sexual trauma. Common PTSD reactions and responses normal to trauma were pounced on to build a misconduct package to discredit me, besides the intentional scenario’s my command built in order to set me up to make me look like I was not doing what I was supposed to do, when in actuality they were giving me the wrong times and information. I was very clearly being retaliated against by my Command, and it is very clearly documented in tape recorded conversations, meetings, and in my board transcripts.