I. From The San Francisco Chronicle:
September 15, 2006
U.S. soldier goes AWOL — alleges sexual harassment
By Carol Burke
Car keys in hand, Army Spc. Suzanne Swift was about to leave her home in Eugene, Ore., for a second tour of duty in Iraq in January when she turned to her mother and said she couldn’t do it. With 2 1/2 years to go on her commitment, she opted out.
Swift hadn’t wanted to go to Iraq when she signed papers while still in high school, but she was no conscientious objector. She believed in what her president told her about the war on terror, and in Iraq she endured discomfort and danger with her unit. She had already shipped her personal belongings to Iraq for her next tour.
But Swift said she had also been singled out for repeated sexual abuse. In the eyes of some with whom she served, she said, she was never a comrade in arms; she was a target for their sexual advances. And despite her complaints, she said, the Army hadn’t protected her.
II. From Sara Rich, M.S.W.:
Update on Suzanne Swift
September 19th, 2006
101 days since her arrest.
I do not even know where to start. So much has happened so fast that our heads are spinning.
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 in an office. 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 form other active women in the military. This gives us great hope that we are helping effect change for them as well as for validating women veteran’s experiences and working to create new hope for the future safety for young women who hope to serve their country without fear of harassment and abuse someday.
Suzanne has given 7 interviews now and they have really taken their toll on her. She has spoken to: The San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, Democracy Now, The Register Guard, ABC Nightline, and Fox news. These were very hard on her and her attorney, Keith Scherer, and I decided along with Suzanne that there would be no more interviews until she is either charged or freed. If she is charged her mental state will most likely deteriorate so that is very much up in the air. We appreciate the thoughtful way that the press has been working with us and we appreciate your professionalism.
The Iraq Veteran’s Against the War and Vets for Peace took matters into their own hands and staged a sit-in on the 97th day in Congressman Peter DeFazio’s Washington DC office. They would not leave until Congressman DeFazio agreed to take some serious action on behalf of Suzanne. he Congressman’s office called me and we agreed that a Congressional Investigation into Suzanne’s case would be beneficial and within 24 hours, on Wednesday the 13th of September, Suzanne was signing a release of information for the Congressional investigation to proceed.
On Friday, September 15th Suzanne was on the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle and it has been major media ever since. I am flying to Washington DC this week to meet with Congressman DeFazio and talk to him about military sexual violence and the treatment Suzanne has received from the military to date and the future unknown plans for her.
Our attorney came out to Eugene to meet with us. Keith Scherer, http://gslattorneys.com/keith-scherer.aspx, is a wonderful man and a very aggressive, intelligent attorney. We are so impressed with him and feel complete trust in his legal wisdom and ability. We are financially and emotionally preparing for a court martial, so please, if you have not done so already either make a financial contribution to Suzanne’s legal defense fund or get some type of fundraising activity planned in your community. I am going to be doing some traveling around the country to talk about Suzanne’s case, raise awareness and fundraise.
Also, please set Suzanne’s website as your home-page, http://suzanneswift.org/, until she is free. It is a very interactive and alive site full of new things almost daily. HUGE thanks to Stacy Hafely, MFSO Missouri, for being the web goddess supreme. Suzanne’s petition has reached 6,000 signatures which is AMAZING!
Please continue to make calls and write letters on Suzanne’s behalf. There are easy forms and all the numbers and addresses on the website. 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.
Once again, do something everyday, no matter how big or small……