Sen. Martha McSally, the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, said during a Senate hearing on Wednesday she was “preyed upon and then raped” in the Air Force by a superior officer.
“My drive to fight against sexual assault in the ranks is not from the outside looking in,” McSally began. “And it is deeply personal.”
McSally said that during her miitary career, she was “greatly privileged to prepare and then lead my amazing Airmen in combat, which is the apex responsibility of any warrior leader.”
“During my 26-years in uniform, I witnessed so many weaknesses in the processes involving sexual assault prevention, investigation, and adjudication,” McSally continued. “It motivated me to make recommendations to Air Force leaders, shaped my approach as a commander, and informed my advocacy for change while I remained in the military and since I have been in Congress. We have come a long way to stop military sexual assault, but we still have a long way to go.”
“I was horrified at how my attempt to share generally my experiences was handled,” McSally said. “I almost separated from the Air Force at 18 years of sevice over my despair.”
But, McSally said, “I didn’t quit. I decided to stay and continue to serve and fight and lead. To be a voice from within the ranks for women–and then in the House and now the Senate.”