[One of my daughters reported her comparable, if not so protracted, experience of harassment and a ‘ho ho ho’ investigative officer (male) who brushed off her complaint. I went ballistic, called the EO who apologized and appointed a male investigator who recommended the expulsion of the harasser — a big drunk who until then had been smirking at my daughter with his buddies. That ended that! But I warn any who have daughters so abused, go into high gear and stop it wherever it turns up. My students have told me too many sad tales where they have been afraid to complain to families or authorities for fear that they will be seen as as the guilty ones rather than the victims. My daughter is a tough young lady and was able to fight off her drunken would be rapist (she was on night duty manning her EO’s desk). The conduct of our military is outrageous in Suzanne’s case. Complain to your electeds. Ed Kent]

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: One Year Later
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2007 03:23:07 -0500
From:
To:

One Year Later

Pride for my DAUGHTER

30 days in prison and stripped of rank, my daughter Suzanne is now
more than ever my hero. I write to update you on recent events, and
ask again for your help (specifics at the end of this letter).

The court martial is over. I sat through the proceedings and
testified. Suzanne was respectful through the whole thing. Then she
had to recount her harassment and sexual abuse experiences with the
molester in Iraq. She started to quietly cry as she re-told her story
of being abused and humiliated by this monster who was *supposed* to
be her employer and surrogate parent in a combat zone.

He groomed and manipulated her. Threatened and intimidated. Harassed
and sabotaged — until my daughter felt suicidal and stopped caring
about her life.

I sat behind her and silently cried with her, hearing the nightmarish
recounting of what my firstborn had to endure… in the middle of a
combat zone.

I told them about my experience as a mother watching her child
suffer. I kept it together. I wanted them to know the depth of my
daughter’s pain, how she suffered, how she’s been punished enough.

On a break, I told Lt. Col. Kuhn what we spent on attorney fees when
we couldn’t find a single letter from any of Suzanne’s legal
representatives in her case file. There was a letter I never received
in the file — written to me March 10, 2006, three copies with
correct name and address, saying Suzanne was dropped from the ranks
and considered AWOL.

As Suzanne pleaded guilty to the “missing movement” and AWOL charges,
she summoned all her strength. My heart swelled with pride as she
stood up and was so professional and beautiful. Even with fear of
prison, not knowing her fate, she held her head high with eyes clear.

Something struck me as I read Suzanne’s file, other than the names of
the three sexual predators and harassers. Others are just culpable as
these three in their lack of protection of this soldier. Equal
Opportunity officer William Cox ignored Suzanne’s plea for
protection. Who trains these criminals who are supposed to help and
advocate for people who’re being abused? The entire chain of command
let Suzanne down.

Now three years later, the military system is again severely
traumatizing and victimizing my daughter. General James Dubick,
Colonel Katherine Miller, Lt. Col. Kimberly Kuhn and Capt. Sheldon
Beer decided that Suzanne needed more punishment. Why not simply take
her deteriorated mental health condition and allow a medical or
general discharge?

Instead they made an example out of Suzanne, letting the world know
that rape is systematically ignored and even condoned in the US Army.

Perhaps they thought they sent a different message, but ordinary
citizens, and the citizens of the world see clearly. They see the
“free pass” given to rapists in the US Armed Services.

The victim’s mental health does not matter. They stripped Suzanne’s
rank and sent her to prison for 30 days. She asked for a deferment so
she could be home for Christmas and the birth of her sister’s first
baby. DENIED.

Suzanne took responsibility for the two charges, and asked for
clemency, that her rank be maintained or suspended. She was so proud
to make specialist and dreamed of being a Sergeant. DENIED.

How can these people care so little about a young girl abused by the
very system they’re a part of?

The holidays were hard for us all. Yes, I’m constantly grateful my
daughter is alive. But our family wasn’t able to visit Suzanne during
the holidays due to her nephew’s impending birth. We cried thinking
about her in prison on Christmas day. We had no way to call on the
birth of her nephew New Year’s Eve.

Thanks to Jeff and Susan for visiting, and Wally and Anna Marie, who
tried to set up visitors. Suzanne received lots of mail which made
her rather unpopular with the mail “screeners”, but made her happy to
know so many people cared. Thank you so much for your cards to her!

Suzanne is an emotional wreck since leaving prison. Sometimes I
wonder if she’ll truly lose it this time. When she called Congressman
DeFazio’s office to solicit help, she was put on hold, then told he
wasn’t in Oregon. She asked for a specific staff person six days
ago; no one has returned her call.

She wrote three letters asking for help in September 2006, to
DeFazio, Wyden and Smith, with signed privacy act waivers. Wyden and
Smith returned regurgitated military jargon saying the investigation
was complete and thorough. Suzanne read them, her shoulders sagged
and she threw the letters down. I wonder how other military victims
are treated when they try to advocate for themselves, without
families or loved ones to help? How do they afford attorneys if they
have nothing? The military is a big beast to wrestle, and most people
it damages are unable to advocate for themselves. How sad.

Now the Army has made decisions for Suzanne. A new job: clerical
shipping and ordering. Then March 30, 2007 a transfer to Ft. Irwin, California.
917 miles from our home. 14 hours versus 4 hours away.

They take away her support system, including her psychologist. The Army
wants her to see an Army psychologist and break off her year-long
working relationship with someone who’s truly helped her. What
unprofessional disregard for Suzanne’s emotional and mental health.

For the record this “deal” was anything but “phenomenal.” It was more
“abominable”. Soldiers who’ve been in combat in Iraq who have PTSD
from sexual abuse don’t deserve to be stripped of their rank and sent
to prison. Be mindful who you trust to take care of your children.

Once again I ask for your help, please write and call your
Congressional Representatives and Senators, and ask them to help
Suzanne. Allow Suzanne to have a medical discharge.

As her mental health deteriorates, she deserves what any Iraq Combat
Veteran deserves: RESPECT. Especially, she deserves what an Iraq War
Veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) who was sexually
abused in a combat zone needs: RESPECT. Please write your local
media, to help us keep this case alive until justice is done.

Huge thanks and appreciation to all of you who have written, donated and acted on Suzanne’s behalf.
Too many to name, but I think of you all often and I am so grateful for you.

Let us walk in Peace, and take action every day to military sexual violence.

Sara Rich,
proud parent of Suzanne, Sonja, Brandy and Jake
http://suzanneswift.org

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]
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