Drowning


If you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand.

It is amazing the things that trigger memories.  The Ambien wore off early this morning, I don’t look at the clock when that happens, I just try to breathe deep and lay in bed peacefully.  It rarely works and since my nerves are already in a frazzle right now, I am starting the day with very little rest.

When the end was drawing near, and I filed formal charges through my chain of command, I knew that I was signing my own “discharge.”  I had always prided myself on taking good care of my female soldiers.  Of course, I cared for all of my soldiers, but due to the fact that women in leadership were very small in comparison to men I paid special attention to the needs of females. 

My last job was as a Training NCO and my last Annual Training I was to be the ranking full-timer on site.  Of course, I fully accepted that the other section sergeants would run training, that is their job, after all.  I arranged for all training meetings to be held in the orderly room.  I made sure that keys were available at all times.  The males decided they wanted to hold those meetings in a cadre room in the male barracks.  Okay, no problem, we can do that.  So, at the appointed meeting time, I announced myself and entered the barracks and went to the meeting.  It is a TRAINING meeting and I was the TRAINING NCO for the whole damn company.  It makes sense that I should be there.

After that first meeting I was never, ever told what time the meetings would be.  I would ask, “What time is the training meeting?”  They would say – let me get back to you when I persisted they would give me a bogus time and I would arrive when the meeting was done.

Okay, so they don’t want the full-timer in the training meeting.  I don’t appreciate that, but there is nothing I can do about it.  I would go to the sergeant and get all of the details to take back to the Female Barracks so that I could brief my female leadership and they can brief their troops.

Well, once again we are a NO-GO at this station.  No information was forthcoming, at any time, for any reason.  In their desire to screw me over, they screwed over the entire female population of their company.

Okay – I admit this all sounds very strange.  However, I do need to point out one very important thing.  The Sergeant that was making all of these arrangements is the exact same Sergeant that I beat out for the full-time job to begin with.

All of the females knew what was going on.  They had watched all of this progress over the course of a few years.  We had seen others struggle with this man, but because no one had the courage to make a formal complaint, the torment continued unabated.

I was well liked by the females in my unit.  I had accomplished several things to help them out and many different times.  I went to bat for them anytime I saw something that wasn’t right.  I would bring the formal complaint and hope that someone had the courage to stand behind me.

If you tell me your were drowning, I would not lend a hand

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.  They scattered like chickens before the fox.  Not a one of them stood up and said, “The Sergeant is telling the truth.” 

I have heard this same story from other women just like me.  That all of their friends and witnesses betrayed them and ran like rabbits.  I can’t say that I haven’t made a similar mistake, but I simply thought that she was a poor NCO, I didn’t honestly know that she was being tortured by this man.  I truly hope, that had I known, I would have been able to stand for her.

We, as females in the military, have got to stop failing our own sisters.  We have to stop failing our brothers.  As  military women we are bred in the bone to take care of ourselves and to watch our own backs.  Because we know that someone with a desire to take us out can accomplish just that, we don’t trust those around us. 

No one is going to listen to us if we don’t scream in one very loud unified voice that this is wrong.  It is a Military Readiness Issue.  If your platoon is like a chain and TRUST is it’s weak link, then where is it going to shatter and what will those results be?

I know that shattering effect.  I was drowned holding on to that chain that broke in my desperate hands.

Joan

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