Sometimes the challenges we face in the military cause us to feel as we have lost our value. But it isn’t true, hard experiences are difficult, but we are still worthy. In this week’s interview with Allie Brazas-Hayes we talk about her time in the Navy and the challenges she faced. You can also read her whole story in her book Flawed but (Still) Worthy.
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Allie literally made a U-turn as she drove past a recruiting station and walked into the Navy recruiter’s office. She signed up that day and headed out to boot camp 3-months later. No one knew what to expect, but she found boot camp and A-school gave her structure and she was ready for her first day of military life.
She reported in wearing wedges, white Bermuda shorts, and a pink spaghetti-strap top with a white blazer. She quickly discovered what military life was going to be like. Not quite what she expected, but ready to prove herself. The ship she was assigned to was in dry dock and instead of doing the secretarial duties she expected she was doing manual labor. As her ship was gearing up for deployment she found out was pregnant and had to be reassigned.
She started her new job working for the Command Master Chief as his executive assistant. It was a great job and she learned a lot, but soon the Chief had to move to the next assignment and the Senior Chief who replaced him until the next Chief arrived sexually assaulted and harassed Allie daily. She tried to report it twice and nothing changed. One day in a rant of frustration she told a fellow sailor about her struggle and then headed back to work. This young sailor reported it and was able to find a Chief who would take action. Eventually, a case was made and the Senior Chief was removed.
During all of this, her daughter was born. She experienced a lot of bleeding post-delivery and when she voiced it to the nurse. The nurse accused her of lying and wanting to get more time off work and said she was fine instead of checking. She went home for the end of her maternity leave and had to be rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery as half of her placenta was still in her body and had been infected.
But things were looking better a few months later as she met Sean. They did a courthouse wedding before he deployed to Afghanistan with plans of a big family wedding on his return home from deployment. But within weeks of arriving in Afghanistan, he was killed in action. This crushed Allie and her command didn’t know how to treat her since she was both a military spouse and an active duty service member. It made the pain and loss harder. She advocated for change with the Admiral before she left active duty.
Today she lives in Arizona with her husband and daughter. To read more about her experience and read her whole story check out her book Flawed and (Still) Worthy.
Book: Flawed and (Still) Worthy
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A Rape Surviors Story - Episode 58
Surviving Mlitary Sexual Trauma - Episode 26
Check out the full transcript here.
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