Sexual harassment survivor says more must be done to protect Guard members

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 6:11 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2022 at 6:28 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - A Vermont National Guard survivor of sexual harassment shared her story on Thursday in Montpelier at a Brenda Siegel campaign event.

Mirra Macy of Brattleboro was sent to Fort Benning in Georgia for basic training where she says she was sexually harassed.

“I had the understanding that the military was respectful and professional to their soldiers, and that was just not true,” she said.

Macy said she was excited to fulfill her lifelong dream of being in the National Guard until she got to Fort Benning.

“I wanted to train, this was my dream,” she said.

Macy says she was sexually harassed, a fellow female soldier was sexually assaulted and a third female trainee was bullied shortly after arriving in Georgia in November 2021. They spoke up in January and refused to train. By February, an investigation had started but Macy says the investigating officer was unprofessional and undertrained, leaving her in an uncomfortable position.

“Within a week of the report I was scared, I could not focus, I was scared, emotional and fearful,” Macy said.

She says she was stuck at Fort Benning, unable to come home. Because she refused to train, she was confined to her room.

She was finally able to come home in March, honorably discharged from the Guard.

When Vermont Guard members are sent to basic training, they fall under Title 10 and are no longer under the jurisdiction of the Vermont National Guard.

We reached out to the Vermont Guard about protections from harassment when their soldiers are under Title 10 designations. They said in a statement: “Soldiers at initial entry training are under the command and control of the active duty station they are assigned to... We rely on active-duty installations to provide the same resources we have here in Vermont... We are not involved in title 10 investigations but are alerted when an investiation is initiated.”

Macy says she hopes more can be done to protect members like her.

“It just wasn’t taken seriously enough, to be comfortable,” she said.

Mirra Macy is a staffer of Brenda Siegel, the Democrat running for governor.

Siegel says she has a plan to curb sexual violence in the Vermont Guard. It includes creating an advisory council and giving victims support.

But, again, Macy says she was harassed at Fort Benning when she was not under the jurisdiction of the Vermont National Guard.

I reached out to the governor’s office for clarification on a governor’s ability to set policy within the Vermont National Guard and had not yet heard back when this story was published.