I served as a Lance Corporal in the Marines for over three years. During that time, I was raped twice and sexually assaulted twice more. It happened so often that I assumed it must be normal.
After I left the Marines, I learned that some studies estimate that more than half of all women who serve in the US military are raped during their service. But according to current military law, military rapists are not required to list their crimes on their discharge papers or to register as sex offenders.
I don't think it's right that convicted sex offenders get to wipe their records clean when they leave the military. That's why I started a petition on Change.org demanding that the Department of Defense require convicted sex offenders to register on a national database, as well as disclose this information on their discharge papers.
When I tried to find out why military sex offenders don't have to disclose their crimes on their discharge papers, I was told it would take too long to create a national database, and even that the military is trying to "go green," and it takes too much paper to add an extra checkbox to discharge papers.
The truth is that most military sex offenders never have to pay for their crimes. Studies say that only 14% of rapes in the military are reported, and only 8% result in a court martial. And those who do get convicted get to wipe their records clean as soon as they leave the military.
When I tried to report what happened to me, I was led through a maze of questions and excuses. It felt like no one wanted to hear what happened to me. Instead of getting justice, I was ostracized and humiliated. But I'm not going to stand by in silence anymore. I know that if enough people sign my petition, the Department of Defense will be forced to address this issue.
Lance Corporal Nicole McCoy