Gina W. went to Iraq, and came back with a different kind of war story. Her battlefields were in the barracks and the mess hall. The weapons were innuendoes and threats. And the enemy? Her own boss.The way these women are being treated is absolute madness. There is nothing, nothing, more painful than being revictimized after being raped (whether by being refused justice, denied proper medical care, or anything else), and nothing, nothing, more terrifying than being put in the position of seeing your rapist day after day after the assault. Suffering such fear and indignity while also facing the horrors of war is a nightmare I cannot even begin to imagine.
"When you go there, you have to be prepared for war," she says. "And then you have to be worried about being raped by your own people."
The former Army specialist is one of dozens of military women interviewed by The Bee who say they faced some kind of sexual harassment while in the combat theater in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Testifying before a congressional women's caucus last summer, Army Capt. Jennifer Machmer said she was assaulted by her jeep driver in Kuwait, 17 days before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
After reporting it, she told the panel, she was forced to work in the same unit as the man and was threatened with fraternization charges. Her assailant, who never was charged, eventually was promoted.
Machmer, a West Point graduate, was forced to accept an early retirement when she developed post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Every time you turn around, you're re-victimized and re-traumatized," Machmer told the caucus.
In testimony at a congressional hearing on sexual assault in the military, Gen. George Casey Jr., the Army's vice chief of staff, acknowledged that when a female soldier files a complaint against someone in her unit, it is strictly up to the unit commander to decide if anyone should be transferred - even if the accused is the alleged victim's commander.
"We don't dictate that," Casey said. "We leave that up to the commander on the scene to make an evaluation."
Critics of the military's attitudes point to problems that range from a shortage of rape examination and HIV testing kits in the war zone to encouraging women to use an injectable contraceptive called Depo-Provera so they won't menstruate during their tour.
"One woman rape victim in Afghanistan was given high doses of antibiotics after a rape and told, 'This will kill anything,' " said Summers, of the Miles Foundation. "It took her two weeks to get to a hospital."
This is how we reward the women who serve on our behalf? This is the way we support our troops?
And give me one good reason why gay men should be denied the right to serve openly when these piece of shit harassers and filthy rapists are not only allowed to continue to serve, but are in some cases promoted after being accused?