Claim: Sexual assault victims punished and lose health care benefits as a result.
HRW claims in their report that many service members lose their military career after being sexually assaulted & they have discharge papers that prevent them from getting health benefits.
DoD rejected the conclusions of the HRW report.
DoD states “they have many victims of sexual assault who receive honorable discharges from the military. There is a policy in place that offers assistance for anyone that reports a sexual assault. It is critical every survivor is treated with sensitivity that they deserve.”
Media states that victim was raped multiple times while serving her country and that they contacted the DoD and Army about her case, a case from 15 years ago.
She states that she was military intelligence, had lots of prescreening prior to enlistment. Promising path, requested by Chain of Command to apply to West Point. After first rape in military, her promising path turned to being retaliated against, and there were two more rapes for reporting the rape. It ended career with an illegal, bogus, discharge. Decade and a half later, still fighting to correct it.
What happened when you went to report the sexual assaults?
When I went to report, I worked interservices, I worked with Marines, Army, Air Force. I actually went to a Marine Corps Ball with another peer in the USMC. I went with an Army battle buddy to the Marine Corps Ball. Battle buddy went to Chain of Command and let them know that the rape had happened after the Marine Corps Ball. I was taken in by military police and civilian authorities. I was taken to the hospital so there were hospital reports, there were police reports. It was extremely documented but nothing was done to the perpetrator. He was questioned, they let it go. It wasn’t even presented to the district attorney in the area where the rape occurred.
Were you pressured to keep quiet?
Absolutely, not only did I lose my career as a result of it but leading up to that was a bunch of hazing going on, they tried to bring different charges against me, things as ridiculous as failing to soldierize because I wore non military underwear under my PTs. So really ridiculous stuff, just tried to make me want to be shamed and silenced. When I was discharged, typically a person is given 6-7 months of a process where they are notified they are going to be discharged from the military, mine happened in one afternoon. There was only the drill sergeant involved, so there wasn’t anyone who had given me a medical evaluation. I was given an honorable discharge but what happened is the chain of command, without being seen by any licensed professional, put on my paperwork that I had a personality disorder. Which basically meant not only was my military career ending in that one afternoon, not given 6 months notice, not given any attorneys, no due process, but also meant I lost all of my GI Bill, lost access to VA, so all benefits, and it was unsubstantiated so even the Army stated policy of how they are supposed to handle rape cases was not followed. So instead of handling the rape cases and dealing with it, I lost my career and subsequently lost all opportunities to be able to get back in the military. Which also meant that follows me as a civilian, and although I’m probably one of the very few people that have gone back and brought the case up to the VA (Veterans Affairs), I’ve actually gone thru six cases with the VA proving that I do not have a personality disorder, and yet nothing is done as far as the Department of Defense to correct my paperwork. So whenever I go to apply for Sheriff’s Department job, any kind of State government job, if they look at my military record, it says I was honorably discharged before my enlistment was up, but it says I had a personality disorder, which obviously has been proved that I don’t have that, and actually I have just went through rape and they just discard you.
You said this personality diagnosis haunts you to this day, we contacted the Army and they said changes have been made and they would be willing to investigate if you make a formal complaint. I want your take on statement:
That’s the first I’ve heard it. I think there’s been a lot of changes with regards to the personality disorders in the last few years. There has not been enough to correct the thousands of service members who have discharges like mine. If the military is willing to look at my case that would be great. I’ve been working with, and trying to get people, I’ve spoke out to Congress on numerous occasions the last decade and a half trying to get somebody to look at it. I know on June 16th of this year, the Secretary of Navy signed policy that was going to look at all discharges and go back and correct those for anyone who was a military sexual trauma (MST) survivor or anyone that had a TBI and was given these kinds of discharges. That just happened this month but I have not seen the Army take action because right now, they say you can go to Board of Corrections. But with Board of Corrections, less then 1% actually get cases heard, very little chance for that.
With this statement, do you plan to contact the Army & follow up? This statement says they are ready to investigate.
It’s actually as of 2 weeks ago sitting in the House Committee so I am waiting for them to contact me. And I even emailed them yesterday about it. It would be wonderful if they would take a look at my case, mine is one of the most documented cases. It would be a breath of fresh air and certainly justice that has been denied for a long time, if that is the case.
Link to HRW request for military sexual assault survivor’s testimony.
Link to Human Rights Watch Retaliation Report.
Link to video interview with HRW Report participant.
Link to Symptoms of Personality Disorders.
Link to Reactions of Victim after Sexual Assault.
Link to Unrestricted Reporting Policy in the Army.
Link to DoD Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Office (Reporting).
Link to Correcting Military Service Records.
Link to Army Review Boards Agency (Discharge Upgrades & PTSD).
Link to How to Apply for Veterans Affairs Benefits.
Link to Disability Compensation for Conditions Related to MST
Why the Navy is making a major change in its approach to PTSD