After being raped multiple times in the military, Linda Davidson feels so defeated that she has tried to take her own life. “Every day, I look in the mirror, and I hate what I see,” said the Air Force veteran. “I’ve been destroyed by serving my country and am tired of fighting an endless battle,” said Davidson, who suffers from depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, nightmares, and suicidal ideation. None of her attackers were charged or punished, she said. She served from 1988 to 1995.
Debra Geske, a Navy technician, was enjoying cranberry juice at a bar in Guam when a male sailor spiked it with a drug when she wasn’t looking. He and two other sailors drove her home and raped her. “I woke up the next morning full of blood,” she said. When Geske reported the rape to her petty officer in 2000, he said he couldn’t respond until higher-ups arrived on a Navy ship four weeks later. Then, officials told her it was a “he said she said” scenario, and “they did nothing,” she said.
In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which abolished racial discrimination in the armed services. There was significant pushback – within and outside the military – but by the end of the Korean War, most of the armed services were desegregated. We have not eliminated racism – not by a long shot – but Truman’s signature at least moved the ball down the field. And if the U.S. military wanted to, it could continue its tradition of being a leader of social change. According to Department of Defense (DOD) estimates, more than 26,000 incidents of unwanted sexual contact occurred in the military in 2012, but just 238 incidents resulted in convictions.