Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I´m writing you from Iraq. I´m a female soldier who is tired of male soldiers making passes at me. I know I´m outnumbered because the male to female ratio in the Army is high.

Some of the women like it because they feel like they can have their pick of the guys, including the married ones. I´m not that type of woman or soldier. I am serious about my career, and I don´t have time for these unwanted sexual advances. If I say no and that I´m not interested, then “no” means no.

To be honest, I have not reported this, but I am willing to at this point. I feel like if I say something about this, then people will try to get even with me, including the females in my unit. I know this is not right and it´s not fair, so I am willing to do what I have to do.

I read your column all the time, thanks to my mom who started reading it first. She told me about it, and I found it online. I decided I would write you and let you know about this. Thank you for listening, and please write me back when you can.

- Proud Female Soldier

Dear Proud Female Soldier,

Thanks for writing me and for sharing this situation. There are resources in place to help you with this situation. I know it must be frightening to report it, because you fear reprisal. However, if you feel uncomfortable and like you are being harassed then you should report it.

The Army has a great program called Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Program. You can read more online at

There are two people you should talk to. First, you need to report this to a victim advocate. Your unit should have a uniformed person for you to speak to and provide assistance while you are downrange.

You should also report this to your commander. He or she knows the policy and knows they must listen and move quickly to rectify the problem. The victim advocate will work with you to make sure your concerns are addressed and that you do not face reprisal.

I know deployment is not easy. I do appreciate all that you are doing for your country. There is much that you have to face every day. Feeling like you are being sexually harassed is not one of them. Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband is insisting that his ex-wife and their two sons move to our area and move in with us. She’s unemployed, and he says he wants to be close to his children so he can help them out.

I told him I would consider taking in his two children but his ex-wife can be homeless as far as I´m concerned. Why should she be my responsibility?

I think she is unemployed because she is lazy. Contrary to popular belief, there are many jobs out there. I´ve never had a problem getting a job, why should she? So what if she lives in Washington state; there are many jobs there, too. I think she is being picky because she knows my husband is willing to help her pick up the pieces.

Ms. Vicki, my life will not become a reality show. My husband was telling me that Jada Pinkett Smith, and their children under one roof. It makes me mad that he wants to compare our situation with them. I´m not Jada, and he´s not Will Smith. I work every day, and there is no way this manipulating witch will lay up in my house while I go out and work every day. I just won´t do it. My husband doesn´t owe her anything. He paid her spousal support for two years, and that is long gone. I think it´s time for her to step up to the plate, not my husband.

My husband is telling me I am wrong and that I´m crazy and I need counseling. He said he is moving her here in February. I´m telling you now, I´m going to report him to his company commander if this happens. His ex-wife is not coming into my home, and I´m not going anywhere.

Also, he got his mother involved in this. My mother-in-law has told me I am wrong, and I should help her and the children. She said she needs to be with her grandchildren and doesn’t want them moving here without their mother.

This is out of control to the point that my husband and I haven´t spoken to each other in two weeks.

Ms. Vicki, I hate to ask you to choose sides, but who´s wrong here, me or my husband? If you have my letter printed, I promise I will let him read your answer.

- Refuse To Live with My Husband´s Ex-Wife

Dear Refuse,

It´s your choice to let your husband’s ex-wife reside in your home.

I agree that she is an adult and should become gainfully employed, but the children need to be cared for financially and emotionally. The children need this, regardless of which parent they reside with. They also need parents who are in a healthy emotional state who can resolve differences.

You and your husband need to move quickly to resolve some of these issues with the help of a professional counselor or marriage therapist. I won´t say I´m on your side, but I will say I understand your position, and if you don´t want your husband´s ex-wife in your home, then he can´t allow it either. I think you should also tell her that she is not welcome to live in your home.

Conversely, I think the three of you should come together and discuss the best way to help provide for the two children.

Regarding your mother-in-law, tell her I said she should allow the ex-wife to live in her home if she is so adamant about helping her.

Your life does not have to become a reality show. Your husband is being unrealistic to try to compare your lives to Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Check at your local base for counseling services. If none are available, then contact Military OneSource at 800/342-9647. They will connect you to a provider in your local community. The services are free.

If your husband will not go to a counseling session, then I think you should still go alone. You could use the support. Please give me an update.

• Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her Dear Ms. Vicki column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at dearmsvicki.

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