Iraq - 2009-10
Lower enlisted male - 24yo
In JUN 10, I filed a sexual harassment complaint against an officer in my unit, a CPT. In FEB 10, this CPT messaged me a friend request via the website Facebook. I accepted this request because I had personally met and conversed with this CPT H. in the past. This CPT H. began to e-mail me and instant message me through Facebook. Soon, this CPT H. was e-mailing me daily, and even though I did not respond, this CPT H. was sending 3 to 4 e-mail messages a day to me. On 18 APR 10, via instant message, the CPT H. asked me if he liked guys and if I ever thought about giving head to a guy. At this point, I ceased all communication with the CPT H. The next day, this CPT H. sent another message asking me if I wanted to try giving head. From 18 FEB 10 to 15 JUN 10, I received seventeen unsolicited, unanswered messages from this CPT H. This CPT H. would occasionally catch me online and send me an instant message, Im watching you through your window. This CPT H. also came to my room, but I did not answer the door.
The day I went to Camp Speicher to make my sexual harassment complaint, I was assaulted by SGT K. in the DFAC. When I passed by SGT K. with my tray in hand, SGT K. grabbed my arm. I told him to get his hands off of me. SGT K. then got in my face (close enough that his stomach was against my tray) and said, Do you feel assaulted? I responded, Yes I do. SGT K. said, If I wanted to assault you I would choke the s**t out of you in front of all these people. I then walked away.
To make my complaint regarding the sexual harassment and assault, I met with my SSG S., company commander CPT W., battalion commander LTC M., and the battalion sergeant major. CPT W. said he would take care of the incident with SGT K. LTC M. told me he needed the name of the individual who was harassing me; I gave him CPT H. name after I was assured that I would be removed from the situation and leave Iraq (this was a month before my "original" flight home). I gave a full report to LTC P. (not in my chain-of-command) where I was tape recorded and told we will follow up with you.
I was put on the same flight home as CPT H. and arrived in the U.S. on 4 JUL 10. From 4 JUL 10 to 1 NOV 10, I, by no choice of my own, was put in direct daily contact with CPT H. I recall a six mile run where CPT H. ran directly behind me, which disturbed me greatly. From JUL 10 to OCT 10, I asked the NCOs in my chain-of-command to remove me from daily contact with CPT H. I then asked CPT W. about the status of my complaint and told him how disturbing it was having to have daily contact with CPT H. I told CPT W. that I was still having serious issues with SGT K. CPT W. told me, If your 1SG threatened to choke you out, he would still be your 1SG. Regarding my sexual harassment complaint, CPT W. said, You need to man up and put your big boy pants on. CPT W's attitude made me feel discriminated against and betrayed.
I went AWOL on 1 NOV 10 for thirty days after which I voluntarily returned to my unit. Upon returning, I informed the new company commander, CPT T., of the background of my case. I told her that I went AWOL because, after my repeated attempts for relief from my command failed, I was no longer able to function in a military environment, where I was forced to have daily contact with those I had complained against. I asked to have my AWOL charge reduced to an unexcused absence and be administratively separated from the Army. The battalion commander denied my request, but CPT T. offered to help me obtain a compassionate reassignment. This request was also denied. I was told I would not be transferred out of the company or the battalion because I was not in immediate danger. In the meantime, CPT T. reassured me that I would not be charged AWOL, but with Failure to Report. However, I was given an Art 15 for AWOL, where I was reduced in rank, loss of over $1,800 in pay, and 45 days extra duty. Having been found guilty, I chose to appeal, but was overcome by these events. I felt I had been the victim of a hostile work environment whose complaints had been ignored then dismissed, and I admitted himself to a mental hospital in Topeka, KS. My appeal was denied, and I completed my punishment.
I was an excellent duty performer until SGT K. assaulted me and CPT H. sexually harassed me. My reporting of these issues is a bright line in time, before which I was a high-performing, professional soldier who loved the Army and had justifiably high hopes for my career. On the other side of this bright line, after I reported the assault and sexual harassment to my command, is a soldier who was steadily beaten down by the lack of serious and effective support from my command. I was not a soldier with an attitude problem who went AWOL because I hated the Army (if this was so, I simply would never have returned to the Army. On the contrary, I was a promising young soldier who was recognized for my hard work, good attitude and professionalism. It is clear that, but for the assault, sexual harassment, and how these issues were handled by my command, I never would have gone AWOL. Furthermore, it is clear that I did everything I could to avoid going AWOL, and this is a testament to my good and loyal character. I reported problems to my command and had faith that it would rectify the situation. It did not. Throughout my ordeal I accepted my commands responses, even though they were grossly insufficient, and tried diligently to pursue the available and legal solutions of a transfer and/or a compassionate reassignment. I was a responsible soldier who attempted to resolve my sexual harassment complaint at
every opportunity with my command through the proper and legal channels available to me. I had legitimate complaints which I believe, had they been made by a female solider, would have resulted in the immediate separation of the parties and a far different outcome for the complaining soldier.
My original ETS date(date when contract ends) was December 12th, 2011. I was separated October 5th, 2011. I can no longer call myself a Veteran. I served honorably in Iraq for 10 months and 9 days. I have paid $1,200 into the G.I. Bill, which i'm no longer eligible for, I don't get my money back. I have a negative discharge on my DD214 (separation form) which bars me from MANY jobs. Oh ya..also lost my security clearance and thats really really hard to get back. I have used almost every resource I can find to help me get my schooling and benefits back. I cant even collect unemployment between Army and civilian job. I need help and have no place else to turn. I have been to my state capitol and governors office with no luck. If someone has ANY information, please, send it my way. Thank you for reading my short story :)
DONT JOIN THE MILITARY. ITS RIDICULOUS HOW MUCH CONTROL THOSE PEOPLE HAVE OVER YOUR LIFE. TO MAKE SUCH BRASH DECISIONS THAT CAN COMPLETELY ALTER SOMEONES LIFE, SHOULD BE MADE BY SOMEONE OF GREAT AUTHORITY, NOT SOMEONE WHO IS IN THEIR FIRST BABY COMPANY COMMAND POSITION.