There was a lesbian E5 in our unit. Now wait, yes this does kind of tie in with the assault and all the rest. Back then, being openly gay or lesbian was not allowed in the military. And for good reason. You do not want to be in a communal shower or toilet or sleeping area with someone who looks at you with possible sexual ideas. I remember at basic training, 30 girls hustling to get ready and down to formation, open bathroom stalls, only 4 or 5 toilets for 30 girls, we were so desperate that we would squat right there in the middle of the floor, and pee in the drains. Shared showers but so what? Just another girl. So, this E5 female, we kind of knew things were “off” with her. And one night, a few weeks after my assault, she drunk-dialed me at home about 2100 hrs. The E5, with slurred speech, was looking for someone to hear about her lovelife problems. I had to hear all about her girlfriend whom she had had a fight with. The E5 was busting a move just like a man would, flirting, asking me to go to a hotel with her in Albuquerque. It was all very inappropriate and disgusting. She went on with talking about herself as being “gay”, her issues with her female lover, and all sorts of things I did not want to hear. I finally told her I had to get to bed as we had PT/ and work in the morning. I went and told my husband what had gone on in the conversation and he kind of laughed about it saying, “I knew men were after you, but now women too?”
The next morning, after PT, PFC H and I were waiting for our assignments. And I confided in PFC H about the lesbian conversation. I was not really worried about it, just shocked that it had happened. PFC H was not surprised in the confirmation of the E5 being a lesbian. But, she went, and told EO. And the EO Sgt sought me out. He said something along the lines of, “*****, I got a report that SGT ****** made advances towards you yesterday.” I was disappointed that PFC H had stirred this up… and I didnt think before speaking, I blurted out: “Yes, but, I am not worried about that, it is nothing, compared to I was attacked at the barracks.” Immediately I had a sinking feeling, seeing the EO Sgt’s face. He took it and ran with it… I should have said nothing more. I should have downplayed it and said oh yeah, so and so came and smacked me on the ass. I was questioned. I gave a partial story. I said that the E7 had found me alone in the storage barracks, grabbed me, and touched me. There was an investigation, but I never gave his name, and I never thought about pressing charges. In spite of only a partial story, I was pulled from duty and put in the S-1, basically an admin section where the laziest of soldiers hide out and file papers and do almost nothing all day long. I hated it… I had no desk, no chain of command, nothing to do. The girls in the S-1 didn’t want me there and let that fact be known. I was insulted, and basically shunned. My morale dropped even lower.
I made a comment to an E-4 female at the unit one day, that I was having stress issues and didnt want to go to the shooting range. She went and told the Captain, and the Captain mandated that I go to “mental health” for evaluation. I went to psychiatry. Told them that partial story and that I was stressed. Went to a group stress management session or two. Hated it, hated talking about the assault, hated being in there with the nuts. I went a few more times to therapy and then dropped out.
In spite of the fact that I did not want to press charges, and only gave a partial account of the assault, a high ranked investigator of the Staff Judge Advocate was assigned to the case. This LTC female questioned me a few times. My husband was called in to give a statement about me calling him home, and seeing bruises on my neck. The investigator was looking into both the assault, and the inappropriate behavior of the E5. Meanwhile, the Captain still had me on his shit list. He’d put me to work with the federal prison workers, where I would be assigned all day long to cut grass, rake gutters, weed eat, paint, clear fields, etc, hard labor. Many a day I toiled alongside the prisoners, even made a friend of one of them. He’d see me struggling and tell me to take a break in the shade while he would finish cutting grass or other chores. One day, I was in the barracks CO office, not sure why I had to be in there that day. I overheard the Captain telling some of the SGTs that the E5 issue was blown out of proportion and just a drunk-dial. Which it was, but, it was also an inappropriate fraternization of a gay soldier against a subordinate.
I was absolutely miserable. I had to see that lesbian E5 in the unit. I avoided any place the E7 might be, but we were still working on the same base. I was moping in admin all day long when I was not working with the prison camp guys. I finally bypassed the chain of command and wrote a short letter to the LTC of our unit. I did not go into details, but said I was having problems in the unit and requested to be sent to a small range base off of Fort Bliss. The request was approved. I was going to transfer units. I had a small glimmer of hope at the news. I could finally be far away from the E7, and have a fresh start.
Did I mention I had developed a problem of saying and doing inappropriate things? I had put in for a small grant through an on-base charity, to take my son to the dentist. Even with me paying for dental insurance through a dependents program, it would cost hundreds for my son to have his teeth fixed. (there was no free dependent dental care which the recruiter had promised me). At this time, my family of 4 was living off-base, solely on my PFC pay. To apply for the grant I had to write a request with a reason for it. I had hired a Mexican man a few months prior to reroof my house. I had given him my enlistment bonus of $4,000 to do the roof and other improvements. He stripped the roof down, started some work, and one day, stole my ladder, and never returned. Left the roof down to the bare wood. Ignored my calls. I had to buy bundles of shingles and my in-laws came out and nailed them on. I was broke. So in the grant request, I wrote something along the lines of: “I hired a man to roof my house, he stole my money and went back to the barrio”. The Captain read the grant request and called me in to his office, the EO SGT was there. He said I was racist, and that “there is no place in MY army for you”. I had nothing to say to that. I should have told him he was mistaken about my comment on the grant request. He had no sympathy for a broke E-3 who had been robbed of $4,000. The Captain truly seemed to have a hatred of me, and I did not mean to do anything wrong, and I was not racist. My own grandmother is hispanic, making me 1/4 latina. The Captain’s hatred continued. One weekend, I had the day off, and my husband drove me and the kids to a lake about 2 hours away. It was a wonderful distraction, we even rented a boat for an hour. It made me happy to see the kids so excited. When we returned home in the evening, the answering machine was blown up with calls. At this time I did not have a cellphone, could not have afforded one even if I wanted one. It seems the unit had a random drug testing, and every soldier was mandated to come in for a urine test. I called in, and the Captain said get on base NOW. So I went in. The unit was abandoned, everyone off duty. The Captain said I would wait in this room, until the female SSG who did the female drug testing would arrive. I sat, and waited. And waited. It got late. It was night time, then late night. I sat all night long. Nothing but hard plastic chairs in the room. I tried to lay on the floor to sleep, and could not. All night I sat there, tired, miserable, and punished because I was not waiting at home to answer the phone on my day off. In the AM, about 0730? the female SSG came in, and I gave my urine sample. I went back home, too tired to think straight. I went to bed, exhausted. During the time I slept, my father in law came over to visit my husband. He left the gate open. And my 15 year old dog, which I had had since I was a small kid, wandered out and was forever gone.
Deaf, half crippled, and beloved by me like a family member. If I had been awake as usual during the day, this never would have happened. My morale lowered even more. The Captain was abusive, the girls in the S-1 were abusive, I was blamed all around, I was disliked. A pregnant E-4 in the S-1 liked to call me “white trash”, even though she was the one who wouldnt say who her baby-daddy was, she was unmarried and living on base housing and basically a lazy mooch who pretended to file papers during the day. I counted the days until I could transfer units.
The LTC investigator called me in a final time. She had completed her investigation and said she knew who my attacker was, just by the rank/location/description. I didnt say anything… the army was being a true let-down to me and I was tired of the buddy-hookups and good ol boys and ass slapping and name calling.
I finally got my orders to go to the range base. I hoped for a fresh new start. I truly wanted it to work. I arrived, the first day, orders in hand, excited. I had made an effort to have a pressed uniform and shined boots, my hair tightly braided. I was first put in admin. There was another PFC there, and I asked her about the SFC who ran the S-1. Oh it started all over again. The SFC female hated women, and hated white women in particular because her husband ran off with one, I was told. I was replacing an E-2 who had chaptered out of the army after being suicidal at the treatment of the SFC female. She had gotten pregnant and gotten the hell out. I still held on to a strand of hope. Until PFC M was giving me a tour of the small range base. There was a SGT, E-6 I believe, who saw us walking around. And I heard him say, “There is *****. Watch out, she’s a troublemaker.” My chance at a fresh start never happened. A bad reputation preceded me to the new unit. But at least I was away from the E7 who had assaulted me.