Their Throw-Away Soldier

Jill Baker

She was not silent when an Army superior very nearly assaulted her on guard duty. She sought protection higher up the chain of command and was rewarded with a promotion to favorite cat toy for male colleagues to ridicule, tease and taunt for the remainder of her military service.

Half a century later, her life is still impacted by the Army’s decision to deal with her military sexual trauma by NOT dealing with it. She is their throw-away soldier.

Their throw-away soldier entered the civilian world when she was 21 years old. She imagined herself to be free and ready to create a new life far different from the one she had left behind. To her angst, she struggled to fit in with classmates at university and with colleagues after graduation.

She tried very hard to squeeze into the mold of how she thought a girlfriend was supposed to act, and then a wife, and then a mother, a sister, a friend. She felt hollow inside no matter what she did to compensate for the pain and sorrow of being thrown away.

Their throw-away soldier still doesn’t know how to act “just right.” She is either too hard or too soft. Acting “just right” in a civilian space means fitting into a stereotypical feminine mold, and she is certainly not that at her core. Acting “just right” in a veteran space demands conformity to a military culture that denied her both purpose and justice.

Yet despite this, all is not lost. She has found peace, acceptance and love at home, and that success stokes the flame of promise that her place in the greater world is still waiting patiently around the corner for her to find.