- CRITTER TALK
- SCI/TECH/OTHER STUFF
Sadly, training instructors, cadre, sometimes prey on that fear, reducing female trainees to little more than servants. When doubled with the fact that victims, imbued and brainwashed with the chain of command, are afraid to jump that same chain of command by reporting untoward behavior. After all, it’s not reasonable to think that the rape victim should report the rape to the rapist. Well, that’s exactly what happened in Lackland, Texas, the Air Force’s largest training center.
Soon after Virginia Messick reported to basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in March 2011, her training instructor, who we used to call drill sergeant, Luis Walker, started giving her special treatment. One day, while she was in his office using his computer—a rule violation that he allowed—he started groping her. Though he promised it would never happen again after she told him to stop, it wasn’t long before he ordered her to deliver towels to an empty trainee dorm floor—and raped her, Messick says. After saying it had been fun and they should do it again, he threw her clothes at her and ordered her into the shower, Messick tells the New York Times. She is the first victim of the Lackland sex assault scandal to come forward with her story.
His behavior is an example of the control exercised over recruits at training centers. Not only did Walker rape this unfortunate young woman, he then treated her with contempt, confident that his position as her training sergeant would protect him.
Messick, then 19, managed to finish basic training, still taking orders from Walker, and not telling anyone what happened. “How am I supposed to go about reporting something when the person I’m supposed to report to is the person who raped me?” she now wonders.
The incident only came to light after a friend from basic training started getting explicit photos from Walker, and he mentioned Messick; the friend eventually told Air Force investigators Walker and Messick had had sex. “It took me a long time to say the word ‘rape,’” Messick explains. She now suffers from PTSD and left the Air Force due to an injury, and is speaking out in an effort to help other victims. The Air Force is “not doing anything for the people who have been through it,” she says. “They basically have left me to fend for myself.” And while officials say steps have been taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again, Messick worries, “It’s not like anything has really changed.”
This sort of behavior has been taking place ever since there were masters and servants, a dynamic that is encouraged during basic training. It won’t stop until steps are taken to ensure that those placed in charge of these precious young lives are properly screened for psychological disorders, and prior incidents of violence or assault against anyone. Recruits should be encouraged, nay, ordered to report any such behavior to the supervisor immediately above the attacker in the chain of command. At that point the trainee should be afforded every protection entitled to members of the Armed Forces, slim as they are.
Dedicated to my granddaughter Victoria, serving her country at Lackland AFB.