Pfc Suzanne Swift, US Army, Went AWOL from Fort Lewis in 2006, She Refused to Deploy for a Third Time with Superiors She Accused of Sexual Harassment

suzanneswift

Spc. Suzanne Swift, US Army

“I can’t do this, Mom, I can’t go back there.” -Suzanne Swift

Pfc. Suzanne Swift, US Army, was a Military Police Officer stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington. She had already deployed twice to Iraq before getting tasked to go again for the third time in less then four years. In January 2006, Suzanne Swift decided last minute to go Absent without Leave (AWOL) instead of going back to Iraq. According to her mother, Sara Rich, she couldn’t handle another deployment dealing with the daily hour-to-hour sexual harassment that she endured from the majority of her male officers and fellow soldiers. She felt especially isolated in Iraq and feared being attacked, harassed, molested, and raped. She told her mom that most of the other soldiers were sexually harassing her, pressuring her to consent, and making her life miserable for rejecting them. Her mom asked her if she wanted to report the sexual harassment and Suzanne did not. She told her mom that reporting would only make her life even more of a living hell. She says when she did blow the whistle on one of her superiors for sexually harassing her, she was treated like a pariah. Suzanne shared that he was moved to a different unit and promoted. She felt that those who reported were not supported but instead shamed when they brought these matters to the attention of their superiors.

According to Suzanne, Army leadership pressured her into signing a release form waiving her right to the mandatory decompression time of eighteen months between deployments. Suzanne refused to sign the form waiving her rights to decompression time but was told that her life would be ‘hell in a shit hole’ if she refused to sign. She says they screamed in her face and intimidated her. As a result she signed the form and was scheduled to leave for Iraq again in January 2006. The Eugene Police raided her home in March 2006, she was arrested, and she was taken back to Fort Lewis where she would be confined. She was charged with missing movement and AWOL. In December 2006, Suzanne pleaded guilty to both charges and was demoted and sentenced to thirty days in prison. If she met the conditions of the plea agreement, she could remain in the Army and be eligible for a honorable discharge. After she finished her sentence she would be reassigned to a new unit. If she did not agree to the plea, she was facing a year in prison and a dishonorable discharge. Her plea, which came during a summary court martial, helped her avoid a federal conviction. Suzanne chose to leave the Army as soon as she could. She would later be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Suzanne and her mother believe that the intimidation and sexual harassment that female soldiers endure is leading to massive stress and in some cases even death for military women in Iraq. So much stress that Suzanne would choose AWOL and prison time over deploying a third time to fight what she felt was a pointless war in Iraq. Sara Rich is confident that Suzanne saved her own life with her courage. And based on what has happened in the Army in Iraq and at Joint Base Lewis-McChord since 2006, we think she’s right.

Read More:
The US Military Recruited Violent Felons to Support the War Efforts
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Iraq)
Violent Crime at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

“Notice to those who report false claims of rape, harassment, assault, and command rape: you make it difficult for those who experience the real thing. You are just as culpable as those who commit the acts.” –Suzanne Swift Petition

Related Links:
Sara Rich | A Moment of Silence Is Not Enough
Sara Rich | Fear for My Daughter
Protest in support of Suzanne Swift at Ft. Lewis gates on Sat., Jul. 15
Rallying for Suzanne Swift
An Update on U.S. Army Specialist Suzanne Swift
CNN: This Week at War
Army Spc Suzanne Swift, Iraq vet and sexual assault victim, supporters rally at Ft Lewis
Iraq Vets’ Sit-in for Suzanne Swift is Successful
The ordeal of Suzanne Swift
Petition for Suzanne Swift
Support Suzanne Swift!
Command Rape
Female Soldiers Treated ‘Lower Than Dirt’
Abuse of women GIs: Good men must check bad ones
Iraq Veteran Says Harassment Prompted Desertion
From Victim To Accused Army Deserter
U.S. soldier goes AWOL — alleges sexual harassment / Enemy lines: She deserted the Army just before her 2nd tour in Iraq, not because of the war, she says, but because her superiors preyed on her
Fort Lewis soldier will face trial
G.I. war resister Suzanne Swift to be court-martialed
NWI Statement of Support for Suzanne Swift
America’s secret war
Spc. Suzanne Swift Signs Statement with Military After Harassment Claim, AWOL Status Lead to Court-Martial
Female soldier sentenced to 30 days for going AWOL
Soldier who claimed sex harassment, refused to return to Iraq freed from military custody
For Female Soldiers, Sexual Assault Remains a Danger
The Women’s War
Featured War Resister: Suzanne Swift
Soldier from Eugene Freed from Confinement
Spc. Suzanne Swift Released from Military Prison, Supporters Rally at Ft. Lewis
Fort Lewis private out of custody
Sexual Assault in the Military: A DoD Cover-Up?
Catching up with military resister Suzanne Swift
Oregon veteran among troops suffering sexual trauma
US Female Soldiers Raped by Male Comrades Have Trouble Seeking Justice
The Plight of Women Soldiers
Rape within Military: 1 in 3 women service members sexually assaulted at least once
A voice for women military vets
Iraq Veterans Against the War Profile of Resisters
Paying It Forward Thanks to Army Specialist Suzanne Swift
Law Office of Keith J. Scherer, PC (Military Trial Lawyer)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s