Army Specialist Suzanne Swift refused to return to Iraq because of the extreme duress she suffered in the form of sexual harassment at the hands of three of her commanding officers. One even coerced her into a sexual relationship, telling her, "If you say anything, I'll make your life a living hell." Swift has since been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Nonetheless, upon being sent to Ft. Lewis, she was forced back into fatigues and into active duty, even while her accusations are under investigation.
Click here to read an interview with Swift's mother, Sara Rich, conducted about the time her daughter was arrested. To send a letter of support to Sarah, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit http://suzanneswift.org/ for detailed info about Suzanne Swift and how you can support her.
On this page you'll find contact info for Lt. Col. Switzer and the Congresspeople who have the power to help Suzanne Swift, a sample letter to send, and a letter from a CODEPINK supporter in Oregon. Further informational links about Swift and about sexual assault in the military are below the addresses. We don't know how many women and men in the military are being subjected to this type of abuse and we can help by bringing this issue into the open. The links below provide further information, news, and contacts.
Addresses for letters of support:
Lt. Col. Switzer
Department of the Army
504th Military Police Battalion
MS55, Box 339500
Ft. Lewis, WA 98433-9500.
After writing the letter, please fax or email a copy to:
Senator Patty Murray
950 Pacific Avenue, Ste. 650
Tacoma, Washington 98402
Phone: (253) 572-3636
Fax: (206) 553-0891 and (253) 572-9892
Senator Gordon Smith
211 East 7th Avenue, Room 202
Eugene, OR 97401
Senator Ron Wyden
151 West 7th Avenue
Eugene, OR 97401
Congressman Peter DeFazio
151 West 7th, Suite 400
Eugene, OR 97401
Phone: (541) 465-6732
Suzanne's Defense Fund
P.O. Box 51584
Eugene, OR 97405 June 17, 2006
Sample letter to send to a senator, drafted by CODEPINK Arlington, TX coordinator Desiree Fairooz:
Honorable Senator Murray,
I am writing to plead for your assistance on behalf of a young woman, Suzanne Swift. Ms. Swift has served a tour of duty with the United States Army in Iraq during which time she was repeatedly sexually harassed by her superiors and coerced into a sexual relationship by one in particular.
Due to these traumatizing events that she experienced both in Iraq and stateside, Ms. Swift suffers from and has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder yet she has been called up for a second tour of duty.
Ms. Swift was arrested from her motherís home for going AWOL. She is currently being held at Fort Lewis, presumably until her case can be heard. We urge you, Senator, to do all you can to persuade the Army to either honorably or medically discharge Ms. Swift as she is a victim of pervasive sexual harassment suffered while serving in the military.
Links to further information and articles about Suzanne Swift:
New officer to check sex abuse report
Colonel not in female MP's chain of command to look into claims
Woman soldier refuses return to Iraq, claiming sexual harassment
Below is a letter from CODEPINKer Zoe Langley who currently lives in Corvallis, Oregon:
It is terrifying enough to have a child serving in the military in Iraq.
Unbelievably horrifying is knowing your child is being sexually assaulted by
someone in her military unit and feeling unable to speak out for fear of your
child becoming another war casualty. This is the terror Sara Rich lived while her
daughter Suzanne, was serving her country in Iraq. The silence has been broken.
Suzanne Swift, a soldier here in Oregon, is facing desertion charges, and
possible military court martial, for protecting herself from being raped. Of the
time Swift prepared to go to Iraq, her mother wrote, "One of her Sgt. assured
me. 'Don't worry Ma'am, we'll take good care of your daughter.'" I desperately
hoped that I could trust him to watch over her. I later found out he was one
the first predators to try and have sex with her and make her 'his private'."
After enduring long and chronic abuse while on active duty in Iraq, Swift
went AWOL to save herself from repeated sexual assaults. While in hiding
Swift was diagnosed with and began treatment for post traumatic stress. Not
quite two weeks ago, the police arrested Swift at her mother's home and
returned her to the Ft. Lewis, WA, army base.
Swift's situation is not unique and we can do something about it. Those most
likely to be sexually abused in the army are the lower rank soldiers such as
Swift. Along with the terror of being in Iraq, men as well as women may be
suffering unspeakable abuse in silence and fear. What if speaking up comes
with the threat of becoming yet another life lost in Iraq? What will happen to
those who survive when they return from Iraq? According to a Pentagon
report issued in March of this year, reports of sexual assault in the military
increased by 40% in 2005.
Why is a young woman with post traumatic stress facing criminal charges for
escaping her abuser? The Pentagon has published reports on the increase in
sexual assault in the military. Swift's ordeal comes two years after the army
initiated policy changes concerning sexual assault in the service.
So why did this woman have to go AWOL and live in hiding to seek help and
treatment, only to be arrested and jailed as if she were the criminal? Swift's
situation is not an "isolated incident" and the military knows it. We can
express our outrage to representatives and military officials who can take
further action to see that this young soldier receives the help and legal
redress she deserves. We can also pressure the military to take further action
to stop sexual abuse in the service as the army's current efforts are clearly