When I was serving in the military I learned that the art of ‘the take down’ was perfected. I witnessed it at every base I was stationed at and I was the odd man out because I confronted them about it. The first take down occurred after I reported sexual assaults to my Commander. My peers and Chain of Command engaged in a campaign of retaliation in an effort to push me out. The second take down occurred when I started holding others accountable for gender discrimination, harassment, and abuse; more retaliation because I was one of those girls who reported and thought she could do a job in maintenance, a man’s job.
The third take down occurred after I was backed into a corner by a Senior NCO with his finger in my face during an Operational Readiness Exercise. Instead of punching him in the face because he triggered my fight or flight response, I instead walked away and gave in to how the PTSD was out of my control if threatened in any way. How could it not? After years of belittling treatment by supervisors and other leaders, of course one is going to begin believing that something is wrong with them and the confidence is going to be impacted. It greatly affects your self-esteem to give something everything you got only to have them ignore the whole person concept in an effort to get rid of you. It’s a coordinated effort by a gang of people determined to break your will.
What happens when they break your will? After they break your will, you are constantly looking for a way to escape the way they are making you feel. To some of us the only way to escape is suicide or AWOL. We cannot leave that particular organization without the permission of the Commander. If the Commander is part of the problem, you have no choice but to suck up whatever they dole out. I think feeling trapped under the leadership of those who you do not trust is contributing greatly to the PTSD, depression, anxiety, and drinking prevalent among our servicemembers. When you start drinking to self-medicate your symptoms, it only seems to make things worse. But it is understandable why so many turn to alcohol in the military because if they want, military leadership can use getting help and taking medications against you in an effort to end your career.
The take down in the military is in and of itself a form of harassment, bullying, and stalking. Once they have you in their target, you can do no right and anything you did do right doesn’t matter one iota. The whole person concept goes out the door. It appears that you are safe when you are an airman (except in Basic & Technical Training) because you are in training but once you become an NCO or a leader, everything you do it magnified. No matter how hard I worked, how many people I trained, or how loyal and dedicated I was, it didn’t matter after they decided that I had to go. I was forced out of by these gangs at each squadron I was stationed at. I find it interesting that I should go through the same treatment at all three bases I was stationed at.
In the end, I had no control over the situation. I just had to suck up what they were doling out regardless of justice or rights or ethics. It didn’t matter what I thought. There were at least three other people in my Chain of Command that could easily tag team and do whatever they wanted. I had no where to turn. The first time I turned to my Commander and the squadron retaliated against me for reporting the violent crimes. The second time I called them out on discriminatory practices, and they proceeded to present me with paperwork that only strengthened my case. The final place I worked, after they found out that I was a victim of military sexual assault and had been diagnosed with PTSD, they swiftly began a campaign to end my career. Why? I was seeking treatment for military sexual trauma and was taking a small dosage of Prozac temporarily.
Since getting into advocacy, I have been targeted by cyberbullies and cyberstalkers. It began in June 2013 and is still happening to this day. It triggered my PTSD because it felt like the same kind of take down I experienced while serving at all three squadrons. It didn’t matter how good a job I did, someone decided that they didn’t like me and I then had no control over the situation. Everything was fine one day then all of a sudden because I had the nerve to hold them accountable, I had to go. It’s not supposed to work like that. How does that benefit the person or the taxpayer in any way? If you have a horrible leader in charge of 200 good soldiers and they decide they don’t want to deal with you any longer, all they have to do is initiate a campaign looking for the negative that conveniently outweighs all the years of good work. It happens all the time. We have no where to turn to hold these leaders accountable. So our lives hang in the balance while we wait for them to make their decisions.
Just like cyberstalking on the internet, there is not a whole lot you can do about it until your life has been threatened. In my case, I think the campaign was successful at pushing me to kill myself. I had thoughts of dying to escape what the cyberstalkers were saying and doing to me but God wants me here for some reason. Until he wants me to go, I am trying to honor his desires for me and my future. He knows that I have a good heart, care about others, and want those who are not kind to be held accountable for their behavior. We are not asking for much here. All of these people have demonstrated a pattern of escalation of their behavior because they have not been held accountable.
Was it in the best interest of the Air Force for me to leave my position. Oh hell no. I had 14 years when they initiated medical discharge. I was eligible for E-7 and their decision to push me out the door may have benefited my health in the end but it definitely didn’t benefit the taxpayer in the least bit. I was planning on staying for as long as they would have me. I was striving for Chief. But this is not possible as long as you have people in charge who have the power to make career ending decisions. It’s as if they are just looking for the excuse to get rid of you while you watch new younger airman walk through the door. I tried to be absolutely perfect so they never had any dirt on me. It didn’t matter, they would just make something up. Every single person should be held accountable for their actions in the military and on-line. They must be held accountable for the reckless damage they cause to the person they intend to take down.