This is Kori Cioca at our Michigan state convention – she’s a plaintiff featured in the Invisible War film.
Her supervisor in the Coast Guard assaulted and raped her while she was serving, and as a result she suffered a dislocated jaw. She went through years of pain and was unable to eat hard foods. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs refused to pay for treatment to fix her jaw, and was instead prescribed a battery of mental health medications.
She joined a lawsuit with 15 other assault survivors against the Department of Defense, and is an inspiration for military women and sexual assault survivors everywhere.
Roll Call: Senators Blast Military After General Overturns Sexual Assault Verdict
A guilty verdict against a military pilot accused of rape was overturned by an Air Force General. Now some senators are saying that the system discourages women from reporting sexual assault.
“There is no justice in a military system that allows a general to overturn the decision of a judge or jury in a court martial. Generals are not above the law,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said in an emailed statement. “The reason why rape victims in the military do not report the crimes is precisely for this reason — they think the system is rigged to protect the accused.”
In March we sat down with Katie Miller — a leading advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) service members — to talk about her experience coming out as a lesbian to the world and the recent policy changes surrounding female and LGBT service members.
Q: Can you describe the day you decided to resign from the U.S. Military Academy and what it was like to publicly come out to America?
A: Coming out to the world … I actually did an interview on The Rachel Maddow Show before I was formally discharged and there was no way I was going to be able to leave post to give this interview, and West Point certainly didn’t want that to happen. So I ended up setting up Skype so I could do a live interview with Rachel Maddow from my computer. And at that point I hadn’t even been out to my father, my brother, or my sister; the only one in my immediate family that knew about my sexuality was my mom.
I remember that was the point at which there was no turning back; it was not only my family that was going to know, but my sexuality was going to be known by the rest of world, too, and I was going to be perceived first and foremost as a gay woman in the military.
And I remember when I was giving this interview I had this bad habit of looking up and looking at my image on the screen instead of looking directly at the camera, which is just poor aesthetics. So the producer told me, “Hey, let your computer screen go to sleep.” So I did, and I literally came out looking at this black screen, which was kind of symbolic for the fact that I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I didn’t know how it was going to be received. The only thing that I had was the faith that I had in myself and my cause.
Q: How did you feel about the combat ban lift?
A: That was great, and it was totally unexpected. Basically, the military has taken steps to make sure that service members have the opportunity to serve in the military and sacrifice for their country based only on their capability.
We have all these arbitrary factors floating around saying women shouldn’t be in combat because of XYZ, which just didn’t hold up with logic. And it’s the same thing with gays in the military. With gays [the claim] was that they would compromise the unit cohesiveness, and all these bogus arguments about why we would be treating a certain class of people differently from another class. And I think that is why President Obama and Secretary Leon Panetta’s legacy is so important — to make sure that anyone who is qualified to serve will have the opportunity and will only be judged based on their capability. So lifting the combat ban for women is just a further example of that commitment.
3 ways to support The Invisible War
On the eve of Sunday night’s 85th Annual Academy Awards, our community is standing with the brave men and women who fight for our country and have suffered the terrible tragedy of military sexual assault within their service. We stand with our service members and we’re cheering for The Invisible War!
Three Ways to Help Spread The Message:
1. Ahead of the Oscars: Donate Your Profile Picture
· Change your Facebook Profile Picture, your Twitter Avatar, your Google+ image or just share the image with friends.
· However you choose to share it, let your networks know you’re standing behind The Invisible War and supporting our soldiers and survivors.
2. Ahead of the Oscars: Pledge Support on Twitter with our Thunderclap
3. Join-In On the Night of the Oscars with a Picture on Instagram
· Take a picture of you and your friends sporting your signs or dogtags on Oscar Night and upload your photos to Instragram – don’t forget our hashtag: #NotInvisible
· We’ll be posting behind-the-scenes photos from Kirby and Amy’s trip to the Academy Awards along with reposting our fans and friends’ images. Yours could be one!
Ranked eighth in her class of more than 1,000 cadets, Katie Miller was a model student at the U.S. Military Academy. But under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law that prohibited gay men and women from serving the country openly and freely, Miller felt she was living untruthfully. She could not keep quiet and had to speak out. The truth came out in 2010, when she announced her resignation from West Point — and her sexuality — on live television.
Miller will be speaking at the National Conference for College Women Leaders, held this June at University of Maryland, College Park.