New America Media, Commentary, Anonymous, Posted: Dec 03, 2009
Editor’s Note: A soldier is betrayed first by her friend and comrade, then by her command. “Anonymous” recounts her determination to prevail over evil and indifference for the Veterans Workshop, a New America Media writing project for combat veterans.
The words stung, like I had just been slapped or spit upon. I couldn’t follow the rest of the lieutenant colonel’s words. Only that the man who raped me was being given an honorable discharge.
My commander was small in stature and had skin deeply creased with age and experience. He always came off warm, calling me by my first name and offering support and understanding. This time, his friendly demeanor gave a surreal character to his “good news.” He intended to give my rapist, his NCO, an Administrative Discharge under Honorable Conditions.
The same shock, disbelief and denial that I had felt after the rape overwhelmed me. I was back on the couch, trembling and in tears, as J slept on his bed, his gun close by. I had sat there then, trying to make sense of what had happened, how a friend – my supervisor and brother-in-arms – could betray me. Now, I was dazed by the betrayal of the Army.
In the cold, makeshift conference room, I was outranked and outnumbered. I sat across the table from my commander and a major; beside me was a female lieutenant, my cold, makeshift advocate.
I fought to stay in control. Anger, building since the attack, boiled up.
J would keep his rank and his benefits. His record would be unblemished. J could reenlist the day after his discharge, and conceivably return to his place on the state honor guard, carrying caskets and folding flags for those who had made the ultimate sacrifice.
The thought repulsed me. cont