An Open Letter from Ryan Leigh Dostie, author of Formation

Image for post
Image for post

Dear Senator McSally,

I’m writing to you as a combat veteran, a Persian-Farsi Linguist for Military Intelligence in the Army. I served in Iraq in OIF I-II (2003–2004). More than our small connection through service to our country, however, you and I have a shared experience that usually no one ever speaks about.

This isn’t how I want us to be sisters-in-arms. This isn’t the way I wish for servicewomen to be connected, but I had to speak up, because I’m also an MST survivor.

I learned very quickly just how deeply the system can cut. The investigation was a sham, my commander treated it as a joke. He took great pleasure in telling me, in front of the entire company, that my case was found unsubstantiated, and went on to tell the men to “not worry. If someone reports something but you did nothing wrong, you won’t get in trouble.” He laughed. The guys laughed.

I was labeled the girl who lied, the girl who cried rape, but also became the girl who had to continue to work with her rapists everyday. I began to blame myself, both for the rape and for having the audacity to report it. In the end, when I learned my rapist would be staying on American soil, I chose deployment to Iraq over remaining at Fort Polk. Eventually, in 2008, severe PTSD pushed me out of the uniform I still loved.

I say all this not so that I can tell you that you’re not alone — you already know that. There are too many of us, so many that we could make up our own battalion, enough to start our own separate war.

The system needs to change. Thank you for stepping forward and spearheading that change.


Ryan Leigh Dostie

Image for post
Image for post

For more, check out Formation by Ryan Leigh Dostie. Published by Grand Central Publishing. Copyright © 2019 Ryan Leigh Dostie.

Available June 04, 2019

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store