Thursday, September 21, 2006

Suzanne Smith Update

I posted on the plight of Suzanne Smith a few days ago. A fast recap:

Suzanne Swift is a veteran of the Iraq war who is now held in custody at Fort Lewis, Washington. Swift had completed a tour of duty in Iraq, where she was sexually harassed and assaulted at the hands of three of her commanding officers - continuing over the course of her entire deployment. Her efforts to report her treatment were met with disrespect and dismissed. Finally, Swift suffered a breakdown due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and went absent without leave. She was apprehended in Eugene, Oregon, in June 2006, and instead of seeing her rapists investigated, Swift herself is facing court martial and prison time.

Ms. Smith has now been in the stockade 103 days awaiting court-martial. Sara Rich reports:

First about Suzanne. Her mental health is declining. She has had two write-ups (counselings/official reprimands) in the past few weeks for being late in the mornings for formation. She is having a hard time waking up because her anxiety and depression are getting so bad. She is having trouble sleeping and bad dreams when she does sleep, so waking up early is just brutal for her. She is still doing office work, filing police reports. She is being allowed to come to Eugene every other week to meet with Dr. Schwartz, her psychologist. She has seen him only 6 times in the past 101 days. It is really hard for her to go back to Ft. Lewis and it breaks my heart every time she leaves, because I know she is beyond miserable up there and being re-traumatized by them daily. With the increasing media attention, Suzanne has been getting more and more silent, yet solid, support from other active women in the military. This gives us great hope that we are helping effect change for them, as well as validating women veteran' experiences and working to create new hope for the future safety of young women who hope to serve their country without fear of harassment and abuse someday.

Please continue to make calls and write letters on Suzanne's behalf. There are easy forms and all the numbers and addresses on the web site. It is very easy to use. Also, please feel free to post or forward this email to other sites/lists. I want to spread the word so we can increase the numbers of supporters for Suzanne. Thank you!!!

Most of all please visualize Suzanne's case being resolved with integrity, and justice being served. Suzanne deserves a timely resolution to this nightmare that they have created for her and many other women in the military.

Please go see Free Suzanne. Their motto is "Stop 'Command Rape' ". Do whatever you can.

The officers who sexually abused this soldier and drove her over the hill to escape need to be stripped of their rank, cashiered from OUR military, and tossed in the brig with the enlisted criminals.

Ms. Smith needs to have her desertion charge dismissed and her rights as a Veteran carved in stone so she can get help from the VA. She's going to need it for a long time.

Ms. Smith is a victim of Bush's Criminal War just as surely as if she had got blown up by an IED.

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