'You were never really safe': Sexual harassment in the military
COOS BAY, Ore. - Jessica Lloyd-Rogers served in the Army during the Cold War from 1975 to 1978.
During her service, she says she was sexually harassed.
"It was consistent and constant; you had to live with it for a long time. You were never really safe."
She said it ranged from cat calls to physical touching and groping of her and other women veterans in nearby units.
She said there was an understanding between the other women to go to the bathrooms together and warn one another of certain men who took the harassment too far.
Looking over her Army memorabilia, she recalled a time when she was the first female in her unit, assigned to a menial position as the clerk. She described her space as isolated with the community coffee pot nearby. She said it gave male soldiers the perfect excuse.
"He kept trying to get my attention,” she described the incident that took things too far. “He started pushing against my body and stuff, and finally came around the typewriter and unzipped himself and whipped it out said, 'Hey, can you type this?' And that was the final straw on top of everything else."
She complained up the chain of command and the response from the battalion chief shocked her.
"His response was, 'Most of the women here are lesbians and dogs. You should take it as a compliment that they find you attractive.'"
She said she got “kicked out, upstairs” after she threatened to call the wife or girlfriend of the next soldier that did anything similar.
She was transferred to another unit in a better position: image interpreter. She said she worked to examine aerial views of the field to spot tanks and assist in the mission to survive the Soviet threat.
Lloyd-Rodgers said she buried the sexual assault experiences and realized she had PTSD later in life.
According to the Oregon Veterans Administration, 6 out of 10 women veterans experience military sexual trauma.
The women veteran affair's coordinator says it's a big issue.
"1 in 8 men, 1 in 3 women have experienced some form of sexual assault while on active duty," she said.
Estabrooks started the "I Am Not Invisible" campaign, celebrating the more than 28,000 Oregon women veterans to increase awareness and dialogue about women veterans.
Both women say much of the problem in seeking help through the VA lies in women not considering themselves veterans.