My Duty to Speak

Airman assaulted by 2 chaplains-United States Air Force

Terri Starkey, United States Air Force

I was sitting here, as memories of the sexual trauma, come to mind. It is hard at times. I was assaulted by 2 chaplains, counselor, and harassed by my boss. So, I wrote this poem, that deals with this issue. I stood there, hand to My heart, reciting These words, I will protect, This Country, from All foes, enemies Etc.. Did I expect, the Ultimate traumas, NO Naive, trusting I just wanted to Be part of A team, not A nightmare. I was taught, we Were to watch, each Others back, not to fear our own comrades

My Duty to Speak

Angel was raped during AIT at Fort Bliss

Angel, United States Army

In 2006, I joined the Army at 17. I was going though a rough time with family and had dropped out of school and received my GED. I thought the Army would hold so much opportunity for me. I wanted to make something of myself. Basic training landed me with stress fractures in my hips, knees, and ankles. I spent time recovering and finished basic late. I was sent to AIT in Fort Bliss Texas. I enjoyed it there I was glad to finally be learning my job. That is until the stress fractures came back. I was deeply saddened to be stuck healing again. One weekend while people were out on pass I was at the barracks. A guy that I had talked to and was friends with took advantage of the fact that I was on pain killers. I was left pretty messed up. I just couldn’t concentrate he had threatened me and I believed him. I was terrified so I left. I left and I was awol for 10 days until I heard he had left to come find me. I returned thinking I would be safer there then out in a city I didn’t know. He didn’t return while I was there but I was a wreck I couldn’t handle what had happened to me. I had panic attacks and nightmares. I was put on medications to help me sleep and help with the depression and it didn’t. My chain of command got tired of me. They didn’t understand even thought I had reported it and spent 3 hours going over every god dang detail I was shunned. People hated me they didn’t think HE was capable of what he had done. I just wanted to get away from all of them. I was discharged because no one was giving me the help I needed to heal. The counselor wasn’t helping all she wanted was to give me meds and ship me back to my unit. I have been in counseling for 3 years now and I am doing better. I have 2 kids and a loving husband that help me get through my day. I still have panic attacks, nightmares, and PTSD. It is a very long road towards healing and I am just at the beginning. I encourage anyone who has been through this to seek some sort of help.

My Duty to Speak

Reported a Rape, discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell-United States Air Force

By Melissa, United States Air Force

I guess it is only fair that I start of with a description and background of myself. I am 5’1, weighed around 110 pounds at the time working as a medic in the Air Force. I grew up in a tiny town in New Hampshire. We did not have a lot of money, for most of my life I was raised by a single mother who had me when she was a teenager.  Up until recently it was just me and her. We were very, very close. We did not have much money for college and I enlisted in the Air Force in 2003 at the age of 18 during the summer after high school mainly to pay for college. Since 10th grade I was openly Gay and everyone was always cool with it from my friends from New Hampshire to my comrades in the Air Force. Even during the period of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell nobody that I was working with directly cared, I was very well liked and my work was superb so they never made a big deal about it. The folks that I was serving with were at first some of the greatest people ever, aside from just comrades we were also best friends and hung out on liberty and even went on leave together. We had fun, perhaps a little too much fun. I had Christmas duty and we were all just goofing around listening to Christmas carols and playing stupid games cause after the morning rush the clinic was pretty much dead. We decided to let some leave early (against policy but we did it anyway) and since I was the only one that did not have any plans for Christmas, I was not going back to New Hampshire nor did I have any family in Colorado so I volunteered to stay in case anybody came in.

After they left a Colonel walked in as I was in the waiting area watching TV bored and asked where everyone was and I did not want to lie to him so I said that I was the only one on duty. I asked if there anything that I can help him with and he said “no, just came in to see how you are doing.” He kept me company and I was so bored that I was willing to talk to anyone. We talked about New Hampshire and his Air Force career and his daughters. The clinic was going to close at 1630 and it was around that time so I said that I am closing up. We said goodbye and I went to turn off the lights and to get my belongings from the back room. He came back, found me in an exam room as I was there closing up and pushed me on to the exam table and raped me.

Right after it happened I sent a text to my mother. She called me right away and told me to go to a civilian hospital. I was crying telling her that I wanted her to be here and she promised to be on the next flight to Colorado. I did as she suggested and went to the hospital and a rape kit was performed. I sent several text messages to my friends in Colorado and only two responded. One came to the hospital and then stayed with me the night because I was afraid to be left alone. We did call the SARC number and nobody responded (they were suppose to answer it 24/7) but we did leave a message. The next day my mother came and the SARC returned my phone call. I was assigned a Victim Advocate and AFOSI was contacted.

My next duty day I went to the clinic and by then everyone knew what happened. Those which whom I considered my friends did not return my text message saying that I was raped and when I went to the clinic they all ignored me. Only two people still spoke to me. After two weeks my mother left because she needed to go back home for work. I felt all alone. Everyone stayed as far away from me as they could just to not be associated with me. The women were the worse, with some women who I once considered friends betrayed me worse than even the men. They spread nasty rumors about me, calling me a slut and that I “slept with every man in the Air Force, all 330,000+ of them!” when in reality I am a lesbian that never been (consensually) with a man. They even said that I had sex with my male friend the night that I was raped cause he stayed with me and when I tried to explain that we did not have sex and he only stayed with me cause I felt unsafe they said that I am lying and a slut. BTW he was also Gay but I could not say that cause he was only out to me because he knew that I’ll understand and he was very career-oriented and did not want anything to ruin his career in the Air Force.

After a year and a half AFOSI came back and said that yes, they found evidence on the rape kit that there was sexual intercourse HOWEVER after interviewing the Colonel they concluded that the sex was consensual. I flipped out, why would I a lesbian in her early 20s consent to have sex with a male who is more than twice her age-and not to mention an entire foot taller than me and weighed more than twice my weight. The Colonel was clearly against the weight requirements to stay in but cause of his rank he was still around and here I was 5’1, 110 pounds why would I consent to sex with him? That basically what I told them. Within two weeks I was being discharged for violation for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Nothing happened to the Colonel. Even if it was consensual as they said that it was, the Colonel was married so charge him for adultery. I was a lower ranking enlisted personnel, charge him with fraternization. Fucking charge him with something. They had no problem discharging me for homosexuality but the heterosexual sex in their opinion was still consensual. He is still in.

I do not think that I ever officially thanked my mother for being there for me. She made numerous trips to Colorado on every time she could get off from work. It was very difficult for her financially as well as emotionally as it often is for family members having to watch their loved ones go through this. I love you mom.Military Sexual Trauma is not just something that an individual is dealing with but the entire family is also suffering through the pain. When you see the woman in your unit who is being revictimized for being raped remember she has a family somewhere who is worried about her and praying that she does not end up being like one of the many women who were found murdered by our military men; Lavena Johnson, Maria Lauterbach, Tina Priest, Keisha Morgan just to name a few.

Right now I work full time with Military Sexual Trauma survivors and going to school on the GI Bill to be a psychologist. I sometime flirt with the idea of re-enlisting since DADT has been repealed because even after all that happened I still LOVE the Air Force. They just need a better way to deal with the sexual assaults and rape allegations.