Military Response to Hazing and Abuse: Promote the Perpetrator and Kick Out the Victim

Timothy Kincaid

September 3rd, 2009

One of the most egregious injustices of Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell is that it invites bullies and bigots to wreak havoc on the lives of gay servicemen without allowing any recourse.

We learned last week of how Air Force Lt. Col Victor Fehrenbach’s 18 year career was destroyed by the false accusation of a mentally damaged citizen. Now we learn that Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Rocha was put through hell only to be thrown out like the trash and his tormentor rewarded as a result of investigations. (Stars and Stripes)

According to documents released by Youth Radio this week, Navy investigators found dozens of hazing incidents over a two-year span at the Military Working Dog unit in Naval Support Activity-Bahrain. At one point, the documents show, Rocha was hog-tied, fed dog food and tossed into a dog kennel full of feces. Commanders also openly questioned his sexuality and forced him to simulate oral sex on other men.

Following the investigation, Rocha sought treatment for PTSD and later admitted he is gay, the news outlet reported. Shortly thereafter, he was discharged under the military\’s “don\’t ask, don\’t tell” policy, which prohibits homosexual troops from serving openly in the ranks.

However, the commander in charge of the unit at the time of the hazing did not lose his job, and was recently promoted to senior chief, documents show.

This is unconscionable. And if the Commander in Chief has any sense of outrage that a voting block which supported him in huge numbers and whom he courted is so mistreated, this will not be swept under the rug.

President Obama may not be able singlehandedly reverse DADT. But he certainly can see to it that rewards for bigots and bullies are revoked and that punishment is meted out. And failure to act only feeds fuel to the growing suspicion that his promises were hollow and his concern about our community is insincere.

I hope he proves such suspicions false.

None of the alleged abusers was punished, according to the report.


September 3rd, 2009

The president hasn’t done anything yet has he? Why do you think he’s going to do anything at all?


September 3rd, 2009

Honestly could this “policy” get any lower in its enforcement?

Also this proves once again it’s the straight guys raping the gays, not the other way around.


September 3rd, 2009

I think this is where we should take a leaf out of crazy Bill Donohue’s (of Catholic League fame) action alerts: a mass mail of protest to the perpetrator’s superiors right up the chain of command, is a necessity.

We must not let this go unpunished – direct action, if necessary by mass events at recruitment centres. And this disgraceful injustice needs to be forced under the nose of the president himself.

The bare minimum demands should be a. dishonorable discharge for the perpetrator and b. PTSD provisions and compensation for the discharged victim.

An opportunity for the LGBT community and those around the world who believe in decency to band together and show their teeth.

This is institutionalized gay-hate, now endorsed from the very top. It’s gotta stop right here; we can and must do something.


September 4th, 2009

What the heck is going on in our Navy. The person in charge should have been brought up on charges.


September 4th, 2009

This is absolutely disgusting! How this can possibly be good for our national security is beyond me. But of course, national security isn’t really the priority here.

paul j stein

September 5th, 2009

Sue the bastards! Torture is torture.

the crustybastard

September 9th, 2009

“…if the Commander in Chief has any sense of outrage that a voting block which supported him in huge numbers and whom he courted is so mistreated, this will not be swept under the rug.”


If outrages against the LGBT community haven’t troubled the president for the first nine months of his term, why would THIS little incident bother him?

Obama was never interested in supporting the LGBT community. He was, however, quite interested in the community’s support. In a few years I expect him to promise REAL progress if we’ll just give him a second chance.

He will, of course, be forgiven by LGBT voters, just like they forgave Bill Clinton, master hypocrite. The second term will bring another steaming pile of platitudes and empty promises.

If National Democrats were interested in helping the LGBT community, they would. When they’re in a position to do something, they don’t.

As governor of Vermont, current DNC Chair Howard Dean promised to veto marriage equality legislation. Vice President Joe Biden voted in favor of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Neither the POTUS nor the VP believe that gay citizens deserve the protections of marriage that are routinely and unblinkingly afforded to NON-CITIZENS and VIOLENT INCARCERATED FELONS.

The DNC doesn’t act to promote LGBT equality BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE TO WORK FOR YOUR VOTE. You just give it away.

How is this not blindingly obvious?


August 9th, 2010

This is very disturbing. I really do not believe that homosexual behavior should be tolerated by the military. But apparently Rocha did not actually do that with anyone, so this situation should not be a priority for his superiors.

Nonetheless, it is very disturbing in that Rocha was essentially the victim of sexual harrassment and sexual abuse. I can relate to him on this point. I do not see my self as a homosexual, but I am impotent and do not go around objectifying women or discussing what I like about them. When I enlisted in the Army I was subjected to a barrage of questions (ten) about my sexual orientation. That I did not have a girlfriend meant that they perceived me as being homosexual. That was probably why I was denied an immediate promotion, and started at the lowest possible rank. It was really the worst of both worlds. Fortunately I did not last long in the military (98 days).

That was 2003. Seven years later, here I sit, alive and breathing, with two arms and two legs, knowing full well that I may have been sent to Iraq, but because I would not put of with sexual harrassment, my nightmare became a blessing in disguise. The problem is thinking that the military is the apotheosis of what it is to be male, American, or human. They are overrated.

Ultimately, it is the attitude of those who enforce the policy about sexual behavior that will make effective any evident change, not the Congress.


August 9th, 2010

So after your horrible experience, you still support the mindset that produced it?


And if Congress says so, the attitude of those who enforce will quickly change or they will be kicked out. No different than any of the previous integration that’s taken place in the armed forces.

SP4 S. Evans (ret)

February 17th, 2011

And now, with the revelation that 90% of Rocha’s accusations were “manufactured”, and given his discharge from officers training because of his psychological issues (which he previously claimed were caused by the same hazing which we now know was at most a fraction of what was originally described), when are we going to admit that being gay in the military has become a convenient excuse for many and a bully pulpit for a few such servicemen and women. ALL of this distracts from the mission, which is one reasons homosexuals were banned from serving in the first place.

Not that it mattered as early as my service in the early 80’s. It was a well known fact that several members of my cavalry squadron were gay, and no one cared. The ONLY time it came up was when one of them wanted to leave the military ahead of his scheduled ETS (google it if you’re a civilian). It gave him a convenient “out”. So he announced his “coming out” officially to his commanding officer and we processed his paperwork. He was gone in a couple weeks, no fuss, no muss.

Unfortunately when you adopt an official policy rather than letting individual commanders do what’s required for the discipline of their units you generate reason enough to REQUIRE that policy be enforced. If the LGBT had simply left well enough alone rather than insisting on the so called DADT policy, well . . . we wouldn’t be having this discussion and Mr. Rocha would have to find another excuse for his inability to adapt to military life.

The one big advantage of getting rid of DADT and returning to an official policy that mirrored the unofficial ones we had before was that there would no longer be a method for enlisted people, homosexual or not, to leave the military at their convenience simply by claiming to be a practicing homosexual.

Timothy Kincaid

February 18th, 2011

SP4 S. Evans,

Yes, ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell eliminated the ability of those who want to leave ahead of their contract to have an easy “out”.

I also supported the end of DADT because it removed some very good, very valuable military resources for no good reason and because it was based on animus and bigotry, but you have identified one benefit that surely all of us can agree on.

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