US Army veteran, Broadcast Journalist, two deployments
Editor’s Note: Rebekah is Fort Hood veteran who recently got out of the Army. She is an NCO who has been on two deployments. She is white and in her mid-twenties.
I’m fourth generation military. And so, I joined because of a mix between family history, and then I needed money for college, so kind of both. I was 18 years old.
I hit my six years back in July. I’ve been an NCO for about three years now.
It’s pretty easy to go to the facilities, but as far as once you get there, getting care, sometimes it’s not exactly to the standard that it needs to be. For example, I’ll go to the ER, and they’ll just write it off as something not important, and send me back on my way.
The mental health side I think is pretty good. I think the problem is there’s not enough providers, so you have to wait. Or, they’ll send you off-post, which is good, because you’re talking to a civilian, and it’s a lot more comfortable. But they don’t talk with on-post doctors, so if it comes to the point where I’m at, where they’re looking at, “Maybe this soldier needs to be Med-Boarded for PTSD.” Well, they don’t take my off-post records. I have to go see somebody on-post. But on-post, I have to wait two or three months to get an appointment. The communication between the providers could be better.
I started out seeing an off-post talk therapist last year. I still see her now. And then, a few months later, she suggested that maybe I should try some medication for anti-anxiety. But she can’t prescribe anything, because she’s a therapist. So I had to make an appointment with my primary care doctor, who’s actually really cool about it. He hooked me up pretty well. We tried a couple different medications, and we finally found one that worked. So it was alright.
And then my Nurse Case Manager sent me to an off-post psychiatrist, who sat down with me for about five minutes, and then wanted to throw a bunch of pills in my face. He wanted to put me on three additional medications to help me with everything. And I tried that, and it didn’t help. It didn’t work. So ultimately, I just stopped going. I dropped off two of my medications, and now I take the rest of them, because those actually do work.
So I’ve just cut out that middle-man. He was a doctor in the clinic where I’m supposed to be seen, because it’s really hard to get appointments, so they’re just like, “Well, we’ll just throw you at whoever’s available in the clinic.” So you could go to the clinic, and see a doctor that’s not your PCM. I’ve been switched around between like, three or four doctors.
I’ve been on one pill, the same pill, since November of last year. It’s Paxil. It’s for anxiety. And then, they have me on two different sleep medications. The sleep pills, I tried back in June. The one medication, it was either not enough, or it’s too much. I could never find that right dosage. The first one was Restoril. They took me off of that, and then they prescribed me Remeron and Minipress, for being able to get to sleep, and then my nightmares. The one that was for nightmares, that one actually did work. What it does is it switches things in your dreams to where you can manage it. I had a lot of dreams about being shot at. Well, instead of being shot at with bullets, I was being shot at with water balloons, or paintball pellets. It’s so your mind can handle it, and sleep through it. And it worked for a little bit, but I ran out of the prescription, because I had to cancel my last appointment with that psychiatrist. I called, nobody answered, I left a voicemail, I kept trying to call and nobody would answer. So I didn’t go to my appointment, because I had to do something at work. Then they slapped me with a $45 no-show fee, because they said, “You didn’t show up to your appointment.” And I said, “Well, I left you guys a voicemail. I kept calling, nobody was answering.” And they’re like, “Well, you still have to pay.” So I stopped going to that psychiatrist. I just saw him that once. I was going in for my second follow-up appointment when that happened, a little over a month later.
And I was at the VA for seven weeks, mostly for inpatient. So I haven’t had time to really go and get my prescriptions fixed.
I get the other stuff through my PCM. He’ll give me like three refills, and then once I’m about to put in for my last refill is when I’ll call and make an appointment, so he can re-do the prescription for it. So I see the PCM about every three months, just for medications.
When I went to see the psychiatrist off post, I was just on the Paxil. But the Paxil wasn’t helping my sleep, and my PCM didn’t feel comfortable with prescribing me sleep stuff, because he wasn’t quite sure, so I had to talk to my Nurse Case Manager and get the appointment for the psychiatrist. So when I went there, I told him I was already on Paxil. That’s when he prescribed me the extra sleep stuff.
I have diagnoses, from the talk therapy, and then from the PCM, who also put it in my medical records. I have severe PTSD, I have an Anxiety Disorder, I have Insomnia. And the talk therapist isn’t licensed to diagnose, but she feels like, based on her experience, that I have Borderline Personality Disorder. But she can’t officially diagnose it. I’d have to go to a psychologist, and get tested for it. Which, being in the military, you are not allowed to be in with Borderline Personality Disorder. I just haven’t had it diagnosed yet.
I love her. After the first meeting, I was like, this is the one. And she was actually the first person I’d gone to. So I was kind of worried I’d have to jump through a couple therapists, and have to say my story all over again. But I got really lucky, and I’ve been with her a little over a year now.
I feel lucky to have her, because on top of my PTSD from combat, I was sexually assaulted. So I’ve had to deal with that as well, and having to talk to so many different people is draining, it really is.
I’m currently enrolled in ASAP as well. Because of the sexual assault, I started drinking a lot, so my command referred me to ASAP, and so I had to tell my ASAP counselor. And then I’m in group, so I had to tell group. And then, the Court Martial’s coming up, so I have to tell lawyers and police officers, and CID, and it’s just…It’s been a big ball of stress.
I’ve told my commanders about the diagnosis. I recently got a new command. We got a new company commander a few months back. I’ve known her since I got to III Corps in a few years ago. She was my old XO, and now she’s a company commander for our unit. She’s very much aware of my entire situation. She knows my diagnosis. Our new first sergeant’s really cool. He cares about the soldiers. I haven’t had a command like that in a really long time. So I’ve sat down and talked with him. I’ve explained with him everything that I’m going through, and my diagnosis and my treatment, and the medication I’m taking. So they’re fully aware, and they support me in anything that I need. So they’ve been really awesome.
I came to this command last July. I was in Rear-D, because I got sent home early from deployment. I was going through a lot of stuff. I was dealing with my PTSD, which at the time I didn’t know it was my PTSD. And then, I had dealt with two people since January who had killed themselves. And then, I had just had a recent break-up. So I was going through a lot of stuff.
And one night, I hadn’t even planned on driving drunk. I gave my keys to somebody else, and they ended up getting mad at me for something during the night, and threw my keys back at me. I don’t remember leaving the club, I don’t remember driving. I just remember waking up on post, and my car was totaled in a field. So when I tried to get care, I went through ASAP. My commander was supportive. And then, I got out of ASAP, and then that was when I thought, “I need to go see somebody.” So I went to go get my therapist. And they were still supportive then. It was when I had a different first sergeant. I’ve gone through three first sergeant’s in the past year. The first two were both very supportive of my situation.
And then, we got a new first sergeant. And he did not like me, for some reason. He was very religious, and I think I kind of clashed with him and his values and morals. And then, when my sexual assault happened, alcohol was involved, and they really didn’t seem to be on my side at all. They didn’t seem to care at all. So I started drinking really heavily. And then, a couple months later, because my assailant wasn’t moved out of the barracks, I still had to see him every day. And it just so happens, that one day, I had to see him, and he came up to me and he said, “I think you’re lying about the whole thing. It never happened, blah blah blah.” And then, I also had a conversation with my first sergeant, because after the rape, obviously my work performance dropped drastically. Because I still had to see this guy every day. He worked down the hallway from me. He wasn’t in my company, but he’s in my battalion, and our two companies are in the same building, down the hall from each other. So I had to see him at work. And so, I didn’t want to go to work, I didn’t want to do anything. And my first sergeant pulled me in his office. He called me an incompetent NCO, threatened to take my stripes. And I asked him, I’m like, “Look, I’m not asking for special treatment, I’m just asking for you to kind of be a little…sympathetic of my situation. This is what I’m going through.” And he said, “I’m not gonna be sympathetic or empathetic for you. You’re an NCO and a soldier, you need to get up and move on.” And that really did a number on me.
So I had to deal with those two things. And then my girlfriend at the time was fighting with me because our relationship went downhill after the sexual assault as well. It was too much for me, so I drank a lot, and that night I threatened to kill myself. I burned myself with cigarettes, and I was like, “I’m done. I can’t do this anymore.” And so, they sent me to the VA for a week, on suicide watch. And when I came back, my commander didn’t ask if I was okay, didn’t ask me anything. All he said was, “You’re getting enrolled in ASAP.” I was like, “Okay. Well, I understand, I’ve been drinking, it’s an alcohol incident.”
So at our ASAP meeting, where you meet with the counselor and the commander to go through your treatment plan, he said, in front of my ASAP counselor, with me in the room, “If you had not been drinking that night, you would never have been raped. It is your fault, because you were drinking. You could’ve stopped it, if you had not had alcohol.” He’s like, “I don’t understand why you can’t just stop drinking. Why is alcohol such a problem? Just stop drinking. It’s not really that hard.” I was absolutely speechless. He left the room and I broke down. I broke down crying. That in itself caused so much built-up stuff with me dealing with the sexual assault, that I blamed myself for a really long time. A very long time. I went through four weeks of outpatient later, in the intensive outpatient program on post.
And then, I had been sober, I hadn’t been drinking. The day I graduated, I was in the day room. I again saw my assailant, because they still had not moved him, even though I asked multiple times. And they were like, “Yeah, no, we’re gonna move him, we’re gonna move him.” Still had not moved him. He came into the day room, even though we had a no-contact order in place, he came into the day room where I was—he was supposed to walk out, he didn’t. He stayed there, drinking beers. And I was just sitting in the corner, afraid to move because he was in there, and he was drinking. And he was really intoxicated when he assaulted me. So I was freaking out, and then he finally left.
And then, I relaxed a little bit, and somebody started asking where he was, they kept repeating his name over and over and over again. And I lost it, and I went outside on the balcony and just started crying. And then, my friends came outside, and they were like, “It’s okay, he’ll be gone soon.” And I’m like, “Well, what do you mean, they’re finally moving him out of the barracks?” And they’re like, “No, they’re chaptering him. They’re giving him a general discharge.” And I was like, “Are you serious?” And they’re like, “Yeah. They’re just gonna kick him out.” And so, I got pissed, and drank a whole bottle of vodka to myself in an hour, if that. And then, I blacked out, and when I woke up I was in the MP station. It turns out, what had happened was, I went to my friend’s room, got a knife, went upstairs to his room, and tried to stab him.
They took me to the ER first. I had a blood-alcohol content of 0.27, and after that they took me to the MP station. I didn’t even know what I had done. They released me to my first sergeant, and I was like, “What am I—I don’t even know.” He took me to my commander, who’s at the company. He’s like, “Don’t say anything to me, don’t say anything to anybody. You’re going back in the afternoon to give your statement.” I was still kind of drunk, so I slept a few more hours, my NCO came and got me, and went back down there. And the MP took me in the room, and he’s like, “Alright, I need you to make a sworn statement.” And I looked at him and said, “What did I do? Seriously, what is going on?”
And he’s like, “You really don’t know? You really don’t remember anything from last night?” And I’m like, “No! I remember being in the day room playing pool, and then I woke up here.” And they’re like, “Well, we’re charging you with aggravated assault.” And I was like, “What? What did I—what?!” And they’re like, “It’s on the assailant.” And I looked at him, and I was like, “Did I kill and murder him last night?” And they were like, “No, but you tried to.” And I was like, “Oh, okay. Well.” And my sworn statement was about two sentences long. It was, “I was in the day room. I woke up in the MP station.” And then there were a few questions. He ended up not pressing charges, obviously. And after that, they still did not move either one of us.
We were in the same barracks, but we were on different floors and on different sides. Like, according to the no-contact order, he couldn’t use my side of the stairs, I couldn’t use this side of the stairs. But that was a custom agreement made by the commander. According to regulation, either the victim or the assailant has to be moved within 72 hours of reporting the assault.
After it happened, I left his room, went downstairs to CQ desk, told them that I needed to go to the hospital because I had just been raped. So automatically it was unrestricted, from the get-go. I went and got a rape kit done, and everything. The court martial, which is getting pushed back and pushed back because of the Hasan case, is supposed to be the end of next month.
Like I said, he didn’t press charges for what happened with me later. So I had gone through all that, was still in ASAP, and now my commander was talking about chaptering me out as an ASAP failure, because I had relapsed. So I went and talked to the social worker, because she had mentioned that there was a Women’s Trauma Recovery Center at the VA. It’s a seven-week inpatient program. So I went through that. And it just so happened, while we were there, we had a visit from Secretary Shinseki, who is the head of all of the Departments of Veterans Affairs, the guy that works under Obama. He came to talk to us about the program and see how it was. And it was there that he looked at me and was like, “Well, how is it on the active duty side?” He looked right at me and asked. I didn’t even have a second to stop myself. I just blurted everything out. I told him everything that I had gone through, my entire story. And he looked at me and he was like, “You’re telling me that you were assaulted eight months ago, and you still to this day see him every single day?” Like, “Yes, sir.”
That afternoon he had a meeting with General Campbell already planned. During the meeting, he had General Campbell in there, he had another general, and then he had the general who’s in charge of Darnall, over all the medical. And he told them my story. And there was another active duty soldier there, who was also dealing with the same situation with hers. Her assailant got moved to a unit that was attached to the same unit she was in, so she still worked with him. And they didn’t pursue any kind of action against him.
So he was basically like, “Why is this going on? What is the deal? Why is Fort Hood treating their victims like this?” And General Campbell, from what I heard, was just shocked. He didn’t know. So he called the lieutenant colonel that’s in charge of all the SHARPs on Fort Hood, he called her and ordered her to have a meeting with all the SHARPs, so they could start looking at, “Why are these victims being treated like this?” From there, she got a hold of the social worker that I was working with. And they sat down and talked with me about stuff. And by the time I graduated the course, that day when I graduated, I went back to the barracks, he was gone. Because when he came and saw us, we were about less than a week away from graduation. So in less than a week, this guy was moved. I have not seen him since.
It’s just, if you talk to the right person, I guess. That’s the only way stuff gets done. So since that, it’s been a lot easier for me. But like I said, we got our new first sergeant a few months ago. When I got back, we had the new first sergeant. And then, we got a new commander the month after. And actually before that first sergeant left, I guess his last little kick in my face, he put in a packet to send me to the NCO Reduction Board, which was supposed to be in two days. But my first sergeant now pulled some strings and talked to the battalion sergeant major, and got me removed from the list. Because he said, ‘This is everything that happened from her sexual assault ’til now. You can’t punish her for having to deal with everything that she’s had to deal with.”
Nothing was done according to regulation. And then my commander, before he left, he tried to get me chaptered out for patterned misconduct, for everything from the car accident on. But once he left, my new commander started to go through everything, and he didn’t put the packet together how it’s supposed to be. He didn’t do it by the book. So that got nixed. She said, “I’m throwing that out.” And then, he had flagged me for some administrative action. And she was like, “No, I removed that flag, and got it taken care of.”
So it’s been a really long road of not being treated the way that I’m supposed to be. They bring sexual assault up in safety briefings, and say, “Look, if you report it this is what’s gonna happen. We’re gonna make sure we take care of you. And blah blah blah.” Are you sure? That makes me really doubt the system. Honestly, it makes me realize why so many victims do not report.
My SHARP, actually, was the last person to find out. She didn’t find out about it until about a week after I reported it. The next day, after I’d gotten out of the hospital and was at the company waiting, I had to go turn in some paperwork from the hospital to my commander. I was sitting there in the Orderly Room, and we had our E-7, who’s the head of the DFAC. NCO, male type. He comes in and closes the door, so I’m alone with him. And he’s standing in front of the door. And he’s like, “Hey, I heard about what happened, are you alright?” And I just looked at him. First of all, I’m freaking out because I just went through what I just went through, and now there’s a guy, who has me in a room by myself, between me and the door. I was about to have a panic attack. I was so scared. And then, how did you even find out? I looked at him and I asked him, “How do you know about that?” And he was like, “Oh, I overheard CQ talking about it.” So within two hours, I had people texting me, “Are you okay?” I had people coming in my room, “Hey, are you alright?” There’s MPs outside investigating the assailant’s room. And within two hours everybody knew. They put it together. They knew I had been sexually assaulted and, “Oh, there’s MPs at that guy’s room. It was him that did it.” So I had to deal with the rumors and people coming up to me every five seconds.
I think if the SHARP would’ve been called ahead of time, then things would’ve been handled a lot better. And I just wish that confidentiality would’ve been played a lot more. I think yeah, it’s an unrestricted report, but it still needs to be on need-to-know basis. Because that is a very sensitive subject.
When the SHARP finally came out to me, she said, “Um, well, for some reason, I just now heard about what happened,” I was like, “Oh, hey, how’s it going? I didn’t even know you were my SHARP. But hi.” Both her, and I had a Victim Advocate that met me at the hospital, when I went in there that night, and she both recommended to the first sergeant and commander that I get a few days off to heal, and just kind of wear off a little bit. But no, it happened on a Friday, and I was back at work on Monday.
The Advocate suggested, “Give her a couple days off, to just chill out in her room, to just be by herself. She needs this right now.” And they said, “No. I’m gonna have her come back to work.” Because it was right before Christmas exodus, my SHARP recommended they just add on a week of leave to my exodus, and just let me go on exodus early. And they’re like, “No. We can’t do that.” No reasons why.
I was very happy with the VA program I went to. I think the biggest thing that it helped me with is not blaming myself, and not looking at myself as a victim anymore. I don’t have a lot of the guilt that I used to have. A lot of it being from hearing that it was my fault, and that alcohol was involved. For the longest time, I thought, “Well, what if I had done this? Well, I should’ve done this.” I was doing all that kind of stuff. But the program really helped with recognizing those statements, and making you realize that there really wasn’t anything that you could’ve done. You can’t control what somebody else thinks or does. And you can’t put somebody else’s actions on yourself and take the blame for that, so to speak.
They do set you up, once you leave, with a psychologist, somewhere. We had one-on-one time. Most of it’s group. You’re with eight other ladies. For seven weeks. It was great, I still talk to some of them now. Just to check in and see how they’re doing. Honestly, you do become almost like sisters, because you’re growing. And it’s really awesome, the animal mascot for the program is the butterfly. And it’s like you come in and you’re in this big shelter of all of your stuff, and slowly during the seven weeks, you just blossom, come out of your shell. And it really does change you. Honestly, I don’t know how I’d be now if I didn’t go through that program. Especially with the court martial coming up. It helped me a lot with not feeling like I was responsible. So now, when I go there, I’m ready to get justice.
That was the only thing done for my treatment, I didn’t get any profiles. I was on profile once, after that accident. I was on the eight-hour work profile for a little bit, because I did suffer a TBI from it. I had a pretty bad concussion, when I had the accident, wrecked the car. So I’ve been on profile for that, but it was a temporary one. But as far as a psychological profile…no.
I think having limited work would’ve helped. Because after the accident last year, I was put in a new position. So for a while I was doing sergeant major detail every day. Raking leaves, doing all the detail stuff. It was just they needed an NCO to be in charge of that detail. I didn’t have a job, because I’d just gotten kicked out of my real position, so I wasn’t doing my MOS. So they said, “Well, we’ll just have her do it.” So for seven months straight, every single day, I was on that detail. And then, finally I’d just had enough, and I said, “Look, I’m not gonna be on this detail anymore.”
So then, it was switched from that detail to I’d get put on random different tasks. So now, most days, I sit around and I don’t do anything. I wait to get put on something. This past weekend I did a different detail. And then I’ve done set up for ceremonies, and random stuff. When they need an NCO to do something, it’s like, “Oh, hey, Sergeant Lampman is available. Let’s have her do it.” It sucks. I haven’t done my job in over a year.
I left my last deployment early because of the draw-down. I had waived my dwell time to deploy with that unit. I’d been back for six months. And then, once the draw-down started to happen, they needed somebody from our unit to go home early, to help bring the percentage down. And I was the lowest ranking, and because I had waived my dwell time, the sergeant major in my section was like, “You’re gonna go ahead and go.” So it wasn’t anything disciplinary. It was just one of us had to go.
When I got back from my first deployment, and we had to do the Reverse-SRP, and then the PDHR. Looking back on it now, I think I had some warning signs that probably should’ve been addressed, that they might have missed. But that was three years ago, and a lot has changed since then. I think it might be addressed now, if I went through now. I don’t really have any complaints about it. Except that I’m just like every other soldier: when you get to the drinking part, you lie. Because soldiers don’t want to go into ASAP. Because we’ve had guys that are in there, and they say, “The only reason why I’m in here is because I told the truth on the SRP sheet.” It just seems like they have one standard for everybody, and if you go above that standard, “Oh, you’re an alcoholic.” I think they’re really quick to label people as alcoholics. It really deters people from getting the help that a lot of people need.
You do want to answer them untruthfully, just because you want to get out of there. It’s like, if I put no, and I don’t put yes, then I get out of here half an hour early, and then I don’t have to answer and go into these follow-up questions, and I really don’t have time for that. They always want to schedule the SRP and you have stuff to do, and there’s a lot of people there, and you’re just like, “Alright, well, let me just check no, no, no, no, no, no, no,” so I’ll just get pushed right through, and then I’ll be done. I think a lot of soldiers have that mentality. So they just rush in, check the block, and then leave.
And I was never screened for PTSD or TBI when I returned, from any deployment. They asked me questions, but at the time I didn’t think I had them. None of the red flags went up to get the screening—except for my drinking.
We got the general briefings on PTSD: “These are the symptoms,” like if you have flashbacks, if you have nightmares, if you’re jumpy, if you’re this, this, this, and this. And then, we did that one test that’s down over near the TBI clinic, near the NCO Academy. It’s a computer test.
We did that when we got back. I don’t remember whether we did it before we left.
When I was deployed, they put two soldiers under me, one was an E-3 and one was an E-4. I mentored them and everything, during the deployment. And then, in my first unit, we had an E-4, and then there was me, and then there was another soldier, and our NCO decided to make me Team Leader, so I had those two under me.
The only one that really needed any kind of care was one of the last soldiers underneath me. She has really bad asthma, and then she’s allergic to a mold here in the air in Texas. So hers was a little bit more intense, because she had to use a nebulizer, and do breathing treatments.
Generally, my unit now is okay to people on profile, they don’t look down on it. There’s a lot of soldiers in my unit that are on profile. But this is our new command. Our old command, it was, “Oh, you’re on profile again? Oh, you’re still on profile?” That kind of thing. But our command now, they’re really good at honoring the profile. We have one guy in our section now who has a eight-hour work profile. And they’re really good about. He doesn’t go to 6:30 formation, because that cuts into the eight hours. So he comes in at nine, every single day, and he works until three, and then they let him go. They’re really good about keeping his schedule.
Under our last command though, I don’t know if they were serious or joking, but I know our first sergeant used to joke about, “Oh, this guy’s going to sick call again, I’m not gonna sign his sick call slip.” But then he’d sign it. But I think that’s generally across the board how the Army is.
I think it should be that if you legitimately have an injury or an illness, that you need to sit out and let it heal, because if not it’s just gonna get worse. And then, you’ve gone from a soldier who has, say, a two-week profile, to now you’re on permanent profile. So you just give them that time, and then if it looks like they keep going back, but it looks like they’re kind of faking it, that’s when you step in. But ultimately, you’re not a doctor, so it’s really not your call.
I think commanders overriding medical opinion is ridiculous. Like I was saying, about the one soldier who had the asthma and had to do the breathing treatments. It was a big machine that she’s got to have at her house when she does her breathing treatments in the morning. Our commander said, “Well, you could just bring it to the unit and do it here.” And she’s trying to explain to him, “No, it’s really complicated.” And then our platoon sergeant was like, “I have a sister who has asthma, and she doesn’t have to go through all this, and blah blah blah.” They kept saying that she was faking, that it wasn’t as bad as what it was. And our commander brought up that point with the profile. She said it’s commander’s discretion. I can follow this if I want to or not. And so, they gave her a really hard time about it. And they expected her to come in and do her breathing treatment.
Well, she’d call me at five, 5:30 in the morning, and I could barely understand her, because her chest was so tight. I’d end up saying, “Yo, just text me.” And she’d have to text me, “Hey, my chest is really tight. I might have to do a breathing treatment.” And those breathing treatments take anywhere from two to four hours. So she wouldn’t be at formation, and they’d ask, “Where is she?” And I’d say, “She’s doing her breathing treatment.” “She can come in and do her breathing treatment!” And I’d say, “Look, I’m not gonna have my soldier drive when her chest is tightening and she can barely breathe, and put other people in danger. Because she could end up being to where she dies, or passes out, and then you’ve got a car with nobody in control of it hitting a family in a van, or a soldier, and then you’ve got an injured soldier, or a dead soldier.
And they’d give me flack for it. They would say, “You need to be on top of your soldier. She’s running all over you. You’re letting her get away with everything.” And I’m like, “What?!” And I looked at my first sergeant and I said, “Look, I’m just trying to take care of my soldier, like I’m supposed to do.” And my first sergeant looked at me and said, “That’s a sixth grade answer, sergeant.” That’s not a sixth grade answer, it’s in the NCO Creed. “I will take care of my soldier,” it says that, in black and white. I think they pick and choose who they want to give a hard time to, as far as that goes. Because they didn’t really like her. But then, you’ve got other soldiers who, generally speaking, are very top-notch soldiers, they get a profile and it’s like, “Oh, it’s okay, you know, you’ll be alright, you’ll bounce back.” And they’ll honor it and not give them a big deal.
But what I didn’t understand with them giving her a hard time is, that’s the whole reason why she got Med-Boarded, because of her asthma and her allergies. Obviously, it’s not her faking it if she’s almost to the very end of her Med Board process. She’s gotten this far, through several doctors, maybe it’s legit, and maybe you guys just need to stop trying to be a doctor, and start looking and paying attention to your soldier and taking care of her.
Honestly, I think this is a big reason why the suicide rate is so high. They don’t take the time to take care of soldiers, and they put combat readiness as a priority, and you get these soldiers that, for lack of better words, they slip through the cracks. And then, they want to sit back and wonder why it happened. They need to take a look at what their priorities are.
Around the time of my accident, two people I knew killed themselves. One was a civilian and one was a service-member that I knew. It just hits you. The civilian, I was the last person to talk to her alive. I was trying to get her to go get help, and she ended up taking her own life. So that hit me really hard. And then, the military guy, he was going through a really bad divorce. He was an older guy, E-7. He had been going through a divorce, so he was hanging out with myself and my roommate, because he lived off-post at the time. That’s how I met him, through my roommate. He’d come over, and we’d cook him dinner, we’d hang out with him. He’d sleep on our couch, a couple nights. We were just trying to do everything we could for him. We didn’t think he was as bad as he was. He never really hinted at wanting to take his own life. We just figured he was depressed, like any person would be, ‘cause he didn’t want the divorce. They had kids together.
We were just trying to cheer him up as much as possible. And then, we found out he had pretty much drank himself to death in a hotel room. So when we found out, we were just like, ‘…Wow.’ My roommate was a Medic, so he took it especially hard, because he had known him obviously better than I did. And he felt like he kind of failed at his job. Like he should have known, there’s more that he could have done.
I kind of felt that way about the E-7. But I felt more about that towards the civilian that I knew, because I literally was the last person to speak to her. I just had so much guilt about it. Maybe I could have said something differently, or done something. It hits you really hard. Whenever you hear about a soldier who commits suicide, you’re affected by it. But if it’s somebody that you actually know and spend time with, all you can do is sit there and wonder what you could have done differently. So from those experiences, I’ve learned to reach out a lot more to other people. I know that I’m going through a lot right now, but I know that what I’m going through, I can handle.
Now, I go out of my way to talk to soldiers. I live in the barracks, so I see a lot of the soldiers, a lot of the single soldiers. I make it a point to go and talk to a lot of the soldiers that live in the barracks. If I see them around, I’ll say hi to them, even if they’re not in my company. I try to do my best to branch out. And a lot of the soldiers, they’ll come up to me all the time, and they’re like, “You know, I wish I had a NCO like you in my unit. Because you actually care. You sit down and listen to us.” And if it’s a problem that I think that I can solve, or help them with, I do it. And I’m not the type of person that’s just all talk. I guess they have a lot of NCOs in our unit that are like that. They’re like, “Oh yeah, I’ll help you, I’ll help you.” And they don’t come back with answers. Whereas, if I have a soldier who’s going through something, I’ll go on the internet and I’ll research for hours, trying to figure out a solution for them, and I’ll come back and say, “Hey, this is what I found. This might work for you. This might help.”
Sometimes I feel I’m like the female version of Dr. Phil in my barracks. We don’t have a whole lot of females there, and being a lesbian, I have relationships with girls as well. So soldiers will come knocking on my door and whisper, “Sergeant Lampman, I need help. This is the situation I’m in. This girl is da-da da da da.” And it’s cool. The soldiers are younger than me, so I almost feel like a bigger sister to them, in a way. And when they’re drinking and causing a ruckus, I’m like, “Look guys, I’ve been there, done that. You don’t want to do it. You do not want to do it.”
I’m out at work. And it’s really not a problem. I mean, before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell got repealed, people kind of figured out that I was. It’s kind of obvious. But I think the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell lifted a lot of stress. The last girlfriend I had when I was dating, she came over to the barracks. And after the sexual assault, she came down to be there for me. And a month or so later, when she came to visit, I was able to come up to my NCO and say, “Hey sergeant, this is my girlfriend.” I was able to introduce her to everybody. And everybody was like, “Hey! How you doing? She talks about you all the time at work!” And it’s just really cool. I felt normal. Like, it was no big deal at all, which was really, really cool. I haven’t had anybody that’s really been negative about it, except that one first sergeant that I had that was really religious, and I think that might have been why he didn’t really like me. I don’t know for sure, he never said anything. But that’s the only reason why I can think of for him to right off the bat act like, “I don’t like you.”
I was out in my own when I was in Cav too, for the most part, with the junior enlisted. Everybody knew. And then, during the deployment I came out to my NCO. And he was like, “I already knew.” I had a fiancée at the time, and he was really cool about it. I gave him her CHU number, and where she lived, because we deployed together. And I’d be like, “Hey, I’m staying over there tonight,” so if he needed me for anything, he’d come there and he’d knock on the door. It was the same thing when we got back. We got back from deployment before I got my BAH and was able to live off-post. I gave him her barracks room number, and where she lived. And if he needed me, he’d come to the barracks room. He was really cool about it. I think I’ve been blessed and really lucky that I haven’t had to deal with any negativity towards my sexual orientation.
The only way that my sexual orientation has really been an issue or come up, has been during this court martial. The defense is trying to say that there have been times when I’ve been intoxicated, and I’ve made out with a couple of my really close friends. They’re trying to say that because of that, when intoxicated, I am not really a lesbian, and that I pursue sexual things with dudes, so therefore I was the aggressor that night. Because he doesn’t remember it. And it’s funny, because he says he doesn’t remember it, and in his sworn statement, he stated, “I never touched her. She’s a lesbian. I would never touch her. Nothing happened.” And then, once the DNA came back, he changed to, “I don’t remember anything.” And then, a few weeks before we were supposed to go to trial, it came out that he wanted to make a report on me for sexually assaulting him. So his story’s gradually changed, and now my sexual orientation is being questioned and brought up in this court martial. I feel like I have to defend my sexuality. Which I don’t think is right. You can’t use that as an argument for sexual assault.
This way that women are made to feel like they’re to blame, it’s very blatant. And I hope that when it does go to court martial, there’s going to be senior leaders in the jury. There’s gonna be sergeant majors, lieutenant colonels, majors. I’m hoping that they can see how blatant this case is. It’s just so much stuff, in this trial. I just want it to be over with.
My attorney that I have now, he’s been absolutely wonderful. He’s a Special Victims lawyer. That’s all he does. And he hasn’t lost a case in six years, so I’m really confident in him. He genuinely cares about the case. He’s not just checking a block. Him and his paralegal. She’s another NCO. She’s absolutely wonderful too. I have two lawyers and a paralegal. One of them is a lieutenant colonel, and one of them is a captain. My whole team has been nothing but supportive. Everything that my commanders try to do, every step of the way, I get right on the phone with my lawyer, and I’m like, “Hey, this is what they’re trying to do.” And they’ll go right to the battalion commander, and be like, “Hey, this is what’s going on.” I think, honestly, that’s why I got pulled from the Reduction Board. I called the captain and told him. And he called the lieutenant colonel. The lieutenant colonel called me and said, “Look, I’m about to be up at Battalion for a legal briefing. I will talk to the battalion commander and battalion sergeant major, because this is ridiculous. You should not be there.”
A week later, that’s when the first sergeant said, “Hey, yeah, don’t worry about the Board.” Them, my therapist, and my first line supervisor, he’s an E-6, all three of them have just been on my team the whole way. And now that I have my new first sergeant and commander, who both back me up, and a new platoon sergeant who’s backing me up, it’s like a whole lot of stress has been taken off of my shoulders.
My commander, the day before Thanksgiving, took me into her office, and I was like, “Yeah, what’s up, Ma’am?” And she said, “Go ahead and have a seat.” And I sat down and asked, “What’s this about?” And she asks me, “How are you doing?” And I was like, “What’s this about? I didn’t do anything.” She said, “I know you didn’t do anything. I’m just asking you how you’re doing, because since I took command I haven’t had a chance to talk to you, and sit down with you and stuff.” And I’m like, “What do you want?” I was really stand-offish. And she asks me, “Why are you doing this?” And I said, “Because you are legitimately the first person in almost a year to pull me into an office and sit me down and ask me how I’m doing, without having ulterior motives.” And she said, “Are you serious?!” Because she didn’t know anything about what happened with my other commander. And I said, “Ma’am, let me just tell you a story.”
The stereotypes around sexual assault are bad. The last safety brief that I went to, half the time the guys were joking around in there. They were like, “Oh, you got a pretty mouth, boy. Oh, blah blah blah.” Even the instructor, before it started, he just said, “Alright, we’re just gonna go ahead and skip through these slides.” It was a sexual assault class. And there’s a master sergeant in there. And he said, “Whoa, this is a pretty serious subject. You shouldn’t just skip through these.” And it was an E-6 that was giving the class, so he set the tone of, “Yeah, this class isn’t important at all.”
I think that’s why all the other people were joking. Who were also NCOs. So you’ve got NCOs joking about a serious topic with other soldiers in the room. Soldiers aren’t gonna take it seriously, because the NCOs aren’t taking it seriously. There’s a lot of safety briefings that go on every single week. They always talk about drunk driving. They always talk about domestic abuse. They never really talk about sexual assault.
And not even just sexual assault. My first sergeant now, every safety briefing, he says, “If you’re gonna have sex this weekend, don’t do it while you’re drunk. Wait until you both are sober, and then talk about it and see what you guys want to do, after that. Do not have sex while you’re drunk. Because you’re gonna wake up, and they’re gonna wake up, and you might not both have the same point of view when you’re both sober. So why even risk it?” I commend him for that. Because a lot of soldiers, they go out and get drunk, and think, “I’m gettin’ laid!” And the next thing you know, they get slapped with a rape charge, because they didn’t ask for consent. Or they misconstrued what was going on, because they were drunk or the other person was drunk.
And it’s not just in the Army. It’s society, culture. We’ve been ingrained in our minds, with so much, “Weekends are for going out to the club, getting drunk, bringing a girl home.” The drunker, the better. They’re the easiest. You see it in movies, you see it in music, you see it on commercials, you see it on TV shows, it’s everywhere. And I think until us as a society takes this seriously, it’s not gonna change. And they need to stop putting so much blame on the victim, and start putting the blame where it needs to be, and that’s in the assailant.
I think that rape is the most serious crime out there. When you are raped or sexually assaulted, you are violated on the most vulnerable of levels. It takes away every single aspect of your life. It’s physical, it’s emotional, it’s spiritual. It’s psychological. It breaks you down so much as a person, to where you don’t even feel like a person anymore. And I think until people realize that, it’s never gonna change.
And it’s staying the way it is in the Army because these leaders at the lower levels aren’t pushing it up as an issue in the chain of command. They’re stopping it right where it’s at. And it’s not only that, the soldier that gets treated like that, they don’t do what I had the opportunity to do, and that’s to go higher and advocate for themselves. They stop at the lower level, because they feel like their voice isn’t gonna be heard. That’s one of the major symptoms of dealing with a sexual assault, is you don’t feel like you have a voice. You don’t advocate for yourself. You think you’re less than nothing. So, honestly, if we’re gonna produce change, we have to talk to these victims and let them know that they’re not victims, they’re survivors. And that they do have a voice, and if we all come together with the same voice, we’re gonna get heard and things are gonna change. Because until we have victims and stories and examples to back up what we’re trying to change, it’s not gonna change.
I have a diagnosis of PTSD now. I have meds and the talk therapy for it. That’s actually what is being decided on right now, whether or not I get medically retired, for the PTSD. They just recently changed the Med Board process for that. It used to be that a soldier took all their documentation from the Nurse Case Manager, and everything about what treatment they’ve been doing, they walk it over to the R&R Center to triage, and get an appointment with the psychologist. And then they have to sit down and talk with them, and then they tell them right then and there either, “Yes, I think you could be a candidate,” or “No, you’re not.” If it’s yes, then they schedule another appointment for the next part.
They changed it to where now, the Nurse Case Manager will write up an e-mail to their boss, explaining, “This is the soldier, this is her situation, this is the treatment they’ve gone through, this is what I recommend.” Their boss looks at it, they say yes or no. Then, if they say yes, then it goes up to their Head of Psychiatry, which I believe is a major lieutenant colonel. They look at all the stuff, and they are the one who decides, “Yes, I’m gonna make an appointment so we can talk about it. They’ll come in and we’ll discuss it.” Or, “No, they’re not a candidate.” So right now, I’m just waiting. My Nurse Case Manager sent the e-mail, so I’m waiting to hear back from what her boss, and then higher-up says, if it goes that far. I should be hearing something back hopefully within a week or so.
If not, then my company commander said, “If you really want out, we can do an ASAP failure.” Which is an honorable discharge. She’s like, “It all depends on if you want to stay in or not. I’m willing to give you another chance. I removed the flags, if you want to try to go somewhere, or get promoted, or whatever you want to do, just let me know.” I’m hoping it’ll come back a yes. I’m ready to just get out and move on with my life. I’m over this chapter of my life.