My Duty to Speak

Active Duty Coast Guardsman: “Women are not treated equally in the Coast Guard.”

Non-rate, United States Coast Guard

I knew of the rape problems that the military has but my recruiter ensured me that it was all DoD problems and that the Coast Guard is the “most women-friendly” branch of service. My recruiter said that unlike the DoD all of the jobs in the Coast Guard are open to women which proves that the Coast Guard treats women fairly. He said that there might be stories out there but things has changed. It sounded convincing enough so I signed along the dotted lines. It did not take me long to find out that my recruiter was wrong.

At basic training my company commander brushed himself against my breasts.  After it happened many more times you must rule out that it was accidental. I spoke to the females in my company about it. Others experienced the same thing and felt it was creepy. Together we all went to our lead company commander to report it. Our lead company commander said that he’ll talk to the CC that did this to us. It stopped.

My unit is porno central. Every where you looked was porn. Every computer’s screensaver and desktop photo showed porn. I reported it. I was told that if I wanted butterflies and unicorns that I should have been a preschool teacher. I was told that this is the Coast Guard. Porn is harmless and needed to help the men. I worked in a professional setting prior to enlisting in the Coast Guard. Why are civilian men capable of doing their work without viewing porn but Coast Guardsmen are not?

Being raised in a Christian home I find pornography very offensive. I was able to track down the Coast Guard’s porn policy and showed it to my Chief. Porn in the workplace is against Coast Guard policy. Chief denied the policy and ignored my findings by saying that it is “just kiddie porn” that is not allowed.

Shortly after things went downhill. I was viewed as a trouble maker. You become the tattletale; the snitch. Not one person wants to include you in anything out of fear that I’ll be running to the Chief to report them.  I was also told that I am jealous of the women on the computer because I am not as pretty as they are. Instead of tackling the real issue I became the problem.

My sexual assault happened on December 22, 2012.  I was awaken by a Petty Officer first class with his hand down my pants. I screamed. He ran out. When I was asked about my scream I lied and said that I was having a bad dream.

Things have been getting considerably worst. When I see the PO1 he always tells: “bitch. make me a sandwich” jokes.  The men openly describe incidents that are by definition rape. The women laugh at their jokes. If you are familiar with Michael Nodianos and the Steubenville video you have some sort of idea of what Coast Guardsmen laugh about and what I have to listen to each and everyday.

We have at least two women here that are here because they have been raped. They are at different units but it is common knowledge that they been raped. Several often make fun of them. Even the women laugh at other women for reporting rape. The Chief and others often hear the jokes but not once put an end to them.

The other women here all laugh at rape jokes and partake in pornography. The most shocking of it all was when we were all at a bar two of the women were ordered to make out with each other. They did. They also flashed their breasts in the cab. A PO3 said “That is exactly why I love having women in the Coast Guard.” The women laughed. Both of these women are in heterosexual relationships. They only made out with each other because it turned the guys on.

We were ordered to move some furniture around. Two of the women sat there and said that it was too heavy for them. The men moved the furniture it for them. I am half their size and did the work for myself without any help. If you ask any of the women they would tell you that they are not treated any differently because they are women. It is sad that these women feel that showing their breasts or showing that they are weak, delicate creatures is the only way to get ahead in the US Coast Guard. Sadly, they are right. Their careers are flourishing. My career was threatened.

This leaves me to the last bit. I am always reminded that I might be kicked out for failure to adopt to military life. I have completed all of my qualifications. I have not had any disciplinary problems. Because I have a problem that others view porn and because I do not laugh at rape “jokes” I am the one that is allegedly not able to stay in the Coast Guard. As of now the threats of kicking me out within the 6-months mark has been action-less threats. It scares me though that I might be out of a career because others are breaking Coast Guard policies.

Women are not treated equally in the Coast Guard.

My Duty to Speak

The rapes of a U.S Soldier.

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.