Please read the beginning of this story as shown within the “Afghanistan Story” tab above.
Sexual assault in the military is an epidemic, and has been for decades. Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR, pronounced saper) was originally implemented in 2006 by a Department of Defense (DoD) directive (DOD 6496.02A) that gave guidelines to the different branches of the military to help military members, government workers, and federal contractors who were sexually assaulted while serving overseas. Prior to my deployment in 2010, we were given a quick on SAPR training that was implemented by the Marine Corps Order 1752.5A written in February of 2008. It was summarized as the following:
“If you are sexually assaulted, you can report it in two ways. 1) Restricted reporting means that your identity will not be given to anyone. You will get medical care. You will be protected but the person will not be investigated. 2) Unrestricted reporting means that your identity will be given to the command. An investigation will occur. You will get medical care. You will not be able to maintain privacy.
You are able to report to three types of people: Chaplain, a military medical facility, or a uniformed victims advocate (UVA). Each of those are to maintain your privacy while you get medical attention and are given an option to have a restricted or unrestricted reporting. If you tell anyone but those three, you will automatically have an unrestricted reporting.”
Afghanistan, September 2010, Camp Leatherneck
There was a Navy Chief standing just inside the tent, seemingly waiting for our group of misfits.
“Is this her?”
Huh? Is this her? The fuck is this guy?
“Yes, this is Corporal Cannon.”
“Okay, come this way.”
I was led behind the desk that the Navy docs used to check various ailments of Marines and into a very small room made from curtains. A blue medical table was set up within the tent. There was nothing else within the room. The LT, my old CO, and the chaplain were all within earshot of the curtained “room”. There was no auditory privacy, but the medical tent was completely empty at this time of night except for the five of us.
“Take off your blouse and I’ll get some vitals.”
The Chief didn’t tell me his name, but he exited the room briefly while I peeled off my blouse, my green skivvy shirt was clinging to me with sweat, or was it chills?
When he returned, he was wheeling the usual blood pressure, heartbeat, and temperature apparatus with one hand while holding a sheath of paper in the other. He placed the papers on the table on which I was now sitting to hide the blood stains that were reappearing on the back of my cammies.
“So are you feeling well today?”
“If I felt well, would I be here?”
He sighed and wrapped the blood pressure cuff around my arm. He placed a stethoscope on the inside of my elbow while he pumped the air into the cuff. He listened intently, tapping his foot while the pressure ebated. He shook his head.
“That can’t be right. Your blood pressure is extremely low. Have you been drinking water?”
“What water? This is a desert. I’ve been traveling all day.”
“You need to drink water.”
We were irritated at each other. He was staying late at work for a mental case and I was irritated with his lack of a decent bedside manner. He picked up his papers and started asking questions without any emotion.
“How do you feel?”
Do I tell him?
“Do you have any feelings of hurting yourself or others?”
Only a list.
“On a scale of one to 10, with one being little to no interest and ten being lots of interest, answer the following questions: What is your interest in usual activities?”
“What the heck is a usual activity out here?”
“Look, just answer the questions.”
I was shaking at this point. I felt another chunk of blood fall from me as he picked up his pen again.
I have to fucking tell someone.
“I…I think I’m miscarrying…”
I burst into tears after I whispered this to the medical professional so the crowd outside the curtains couldn’t hear.
“I’m pregnant and I’m bleeding a lot.”
“How are you pregnant?”
“You were what?”
I was openly sobbing at this point. My stomach was heaving and I started blacking out again.
The Navy Chief walked out of the room. I laid on the table, curled into a ball and holding my stomach, bawling.
“She said she was raped and now she’s miscarrying.”
The medical professional loudly announced this to the room.