Victims of sexual assault expressed the struggles and successes they face on a banner displayed at the III Corps Headquarters.
From pain and loss to hope for the future, one victim wrote, “My enemy turned out to be my brother,” while another said “I’m not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
All of the victims whose artwork was on display are Fort Hood soldiers. About 20 of those sexual assault survivors sat in solidarity beside their artwork during a proclamation Tuesday.
Since Oct. 1, Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, said 77 Fort Hood soldiers reported they were sexually assaulted.
Milley, who signed the anti-sexual violence proclamation, said there is no reason why anyone should go to work and be subject to sexual harassment or the crime of sexual assault.
“No one should ever be raped,” he said. “Sex is something that is to be enjoyed between consenting adults. It’s an act of love; an act of commitment. Sexual assault and rape is an act of violence.
“It’s an act of domination. It’s not an act of love. It’s an act of hate and we have to put it to a halt.”
Lt. Col. Jacqueline H. Davis, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program manager, said there are Army rules and regulations in place to make sure the military does everything it can to help victims.
“Not just from the advocacy side, but from the behavioral health and investigations,” she said.
Soldiers urged to speak up
Although April is sexual assault awareness month, Milley said it’s important for soldiers to look after one another and speak up against sexual assault year-round.
“If you’re a commander and you have 77 fratricides, that’s not good. This is serious business,” he said. “This is one soldier assaulting another soldier. We have a casualty as a result; a (soldier who) is no longer combat effective ... no longer are they whole mentally and physically. No longer can they perform their combat ready tasks.”
Milley said every soldier, regardless or race, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation and rank should be treated with dignity and respect.
“There are no exceptions. Everyone is equal in the eye of the law and we cannot allow this to continue,” he said.
“I commit to you that the chains of command are absolutely committed to this.”