Disclaimer: this is not a political statement as to who I believe should be the next president of the United States. This is strictly a story about something that happened to me. Current news events have brought back the memory.
This happened thirty-two years ago. Thirty-two years ago, I was in the Army Reserves. Finally, it is time to tell.
Both my ex-husband and I had just returned from active duty tours in Germany, and I was pregnant with our first child. I was 27 years old. I had completed my time on active duty and was happy with the choice I had made to be a stay at home mom. After four years on active duty, I would fulfill the remainder of my military commitment by doing monthly weekend drill with an Army Reserve unit in Louisville, KY, while my husband continued with his active duty career at Ft. Knox, Ky. He would be attending the Armor Officer’s Advanced Course in Ft. Knox. I began my time with the reserve unit a few months before our first child was born.
I don’t remember all of the particulars like the exact name of the reserve unit or the exact names of the individuals involved, but I do remember the exact nature of what happened.
Jennifer was born in November of 1984, so this incident occurred sometime around the beginning of 1985. I was a promotable First Lieutenant when I left active duty. My reserve unit assignment was in the supply room since I served as a Supply/Property Book Officer while I was on active duty. That is the person that does all of the supply/equipment requisitioning for the unit and is “accountable” for keeping track of all of the equipment. The commander of the unit was the person “responsible” for everything. At least that is how it was when I was on active duty from 1981-1984. I doubt much has changed where that is concerned.
At any rate, I was in the supply room this morning during drill weekend going over something with another Lieutenant at his desk when the unit’s First Sargent came walking by. As he walked by, he smacked me squarely on the rear end. Startled, I jumped up and knee-jerk-reaction punched him in the arm and said something like, “Knock it off! That’s not okay. I would never walk up to you and grab you!” He smirked and walked away. He was lucky I didn’t knock his head off his shoulders.
Immediately after the incident, I marched directly to the unit commander’s office; He was a major. I explained to him that I had been leaning over a desk working with the other Lieutenant when the First Sargent walked in and patted me on the rear end. The commander chuckled and said, “Oh he just probably meant that in a fatherly way.”
“Excuse me sir, but with all due respect, I am 28 years old. My father hasn’t done that to me in quite some time. His behavior was inappropriate and I expect that he will be reprimanded for it.”
I left the commander’s office. I continued with the rest of my day. When I got home that evening, I told my husband what had happened. He was livid to say the least. He said it was sexual harassment and the commander, if he was doing his job correctly, should appoint an investigating officer.
A few weeks later, I did get a phone call from a woman. She was a Captain with the reserve unit assigned as the investigating officer relating to the incident. She came out to our quarters on Ft. Knox and we visited for a while. I explained to her what happened. I felt good after the meeting.
Sometime later, I received a phone call from the unit commander. He explained the investigating officer’s findings to me. I don’t remember his exact words, but it was something like she had decided I was going through postpartum depression and the incident didn’t really take place. I was flabbergasted! I hung up without saying a word. I couldn’t fathom she would come to this conclusion.
I never returned to that reserve unit. I resigned my commission instead. I wrote a detailed letter to Military Personnel, explaining the incident. I said I had never experienced such blatant disrespect while I was on active duty and wasn’t about to start while I was in the Reserves.
Why am I saying something about it now thirty-two years later? For the same reason so many woman are just now coming out of the woodwork with regard to one of our presidential candidates. They didn’t come out sooner because who would have believed them. Nobody believes women when they make these kinds of accusations. When a woman makes a claim of sexual harassment, it is often considered the woman’s fault.
What egregious error did I commit the day it happened to me? Was it showing up to work? It couldn’t have been because of what I was wearing. I was wearing BDU’s (Battle Dress Uniform) with my combat boots. How sexy is that? Was it what I was doing? I was bending over a desk, discussing a work item with a co-worker. I am even reluctant to say I was bending over a desk as if somehow THAT wasn’t appropriate. IT HAPPENED! What could I possibly gain at this point to make up something like this? It happens every day… and will unfortunately happen eventually or it already has happened to all women.
I am sure Karma got the female Captain who investigated the incident, the female captain who was sure to come up with a finding that would promote her career!
There are some foul men out there! Men who think it is okay to do whatever they want to a woman. Just don’t be bold enough to try it with my daughter or my granddaughter!
Here is my card today.
Hope you enjoyed what you saw and read today. Writing is one of my other passions. I just don’t think I am that good at it. But I am getting better. 🙂
Until next time…
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