Daughter alleges abuse in military

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I heard there is a big local issue about truth in recruiting and the fact that women are not safe in the U.S. military. I was asked by a Juneau friend to write the following letter.

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My daughter, Suzanne Swift, joined the U.S. Army in 2003. I was not worried about her because her recruiter told us if she signed up for the Military Occupational Specialty of a military police officer she would not be sent into conflict.

To sign up for this MOS, she had to agree to five years enlistment. Within a month of getting out of training, she was sent immediately to Iraq driving Humvees during combat patrols.

Why would the recruiter lie? We all felt very betrayed by this and I now know that recruiters will say and promise anything to get the recruit to sign the dotted line. Was I worried about my daughter when she went to Iraq? You bet I was. But I had some reassurance from two of her commanders that they would take good care of my 19-year-old daughter in a combat zone.

Once again I was a fool to trust the words of these men. My daughter said these two instantly started to prey on her, trying to coerce her into being their "deployment girlfriend."

She said she was in a combat zone, scared to death, being shot at while the two men who were in charge of her very life were treating her like a sexual object. Suzanne said she was eventually coerced with this fear into a sexual relationship. This accusation involved what is called "command rape."

Suzanne at the end of her deployment was so depressed she thought of suicide. She was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. The military has done nothing to help Suzanne but treat her like she is the criminal. They even put her in prison for a short time.

I have done intensive work on military sexual trauma and since Suzanne's case became known internationally, thousands of men and women have contacted us telling me their stories of rape and abuse in the military.

Be informed about the reality of serving in the military before you allow your child or friend to join the military.

Sara Rich

Military mom of an Iraq veteran, member of Military Families Speak Out

Eugene, Ore.

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