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 - Former soldier says sexual assault in the military changed her life - Iraq

    Former soldier says sexual assault in the military changed her life

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - She studied at the Air Force Academy and served in the Colorado National Guard. But, she says, the military betrayed her. Sharon Mixon is one of dozens of women who’ve spoken to the Denver Post about being sexually assaulted in the military.

    As part of the Guard, Mixon served as a combat medic during Operation Desert Storm. Dealing with blood and death was part of her job, she says, but nothing prepared her for the nightmare of being gang raped by fellow American soldiers.

    “Apparently there was something in my drink because the next thing I know is that I'm face down on the cot and I cannot breathe,” says Mixon.

    The rape left her unable, at times, to speak clearly. She also says she is unable to have children and unable to forgive her attackers and the MP she reported it to.

    “I was just told – what do you expect, being a female in combat?” she says. “You think it's bad now, you open your mouth again. And because I wanted to be a soldier, I didn't.”

    It was two years before Sharon could even tell her mother.

    “I don't remember what remark Sharon made but it was rather harsh concerning men. She said, you don't understand, I was raped. I didn't know what to say,” says Ruth Mixon. “Her career was on the swing up. After the rape, because she kept her mouth quiet, she kept working and kept going. When she broke it was like the Titanic went down.”

    Records show that when Sharon was 28, she had a hysterectomy – in part, she says, from problems caused by the rape. After 12 years of service, and honors including a Medal of Valor, she was given a medical discharge from the Army, and then her world fell apart.

    “I just thought, nothing meant anything. Everything's a lie. And my foundation just crumbled, and I wanted to kill myself that day more than I ever have in my life.”

    Sharon was hospitalized and began what she describes as a humiliating process of getting help from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    “It's like being raped all over again. Fighting for money from the VA, fighting for treatment. Fighting for somebody just to give you an answer. You know? It's like being raped, because it takes a part of your soul.”

    source: Denver Post - 13 Nov, 2003

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