Kayla Michael barely finished introducing herself before the garrison commander’s deputy declared: “you have no affiliation with the U.S. Army and no right to be on my premises today,” he barked. “I am going to have you immediately escorted off the base and if you refuse to leave immediately, I will have you removed by force.” That was the end of Michael’s three-year career as an advocate for victims, employed by a civilian contractor for the U.S. Army at its European headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany, says the Hartford Courant.
Despite proposed changes to the military’s sexual assault policies, including one that will give rape victims the ability to speak confidentially for the first time to advocates and medical professionals, Michael and four other advocates working for the military say they have been harassed, ignored, or fired for doing their jobs. Victim advocates told the Courant that as the military devises new policies to protect victims’ rights, the advocates assigned to work on the front lines are battling a deep institutional resistance within the ranks. If the commanding officer doesn’t want a criminal case to go anywhere, they said, it won’t.