Register Wednesday | January 17 | 2018
Battle Fatigue Illustration by Caitlin McDonagh.

Battle Fatigue

Retired Captain Kelly S. Thompson on how to change the military’s culture of sexual harassment.

In the summer of 2004, I was zipping through an obstacle course, part of basic officer training with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), when I reached a wooden wall about ten feet high. I stepped on the back of a kneeling cadet, as we were trained to do, then reached for a platoon-mate’s hands to pull me upwards.

“You feel that, Thompson?” A fellow cadet cupped his paws firmly around my bottom. “You’re a little more than a handful back here.”

I wrenched the wooden slats underneath my armpits, pulling myself up. “Piss off,” I muttered. It occurred to me that I ought to do something. Yell. Kick him in the face. Bring my concerns to the course staff. But I didn’t excel, physically speaking, so my platoon already regarded me as weak. These men were supposed to be my family, and as a soldier, I thought ...

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