Torment, Abuse, Humiliation – Awesome Recruiting Incentives for the United States Navy

By: Ryan Thomas

Joseph Rocha, a former sailor with the United States Navy and gay man, was subjected to abuse, humiliation, and hazing, which was the result of his perceived and actual sexual orientation while serving as a military dog handler in the Middle East.

Rocha said that he “was tormented by [his] chief and fellow sailors, physically and emotionally, for being gay.” He described the abuse for the Washington Post and asserts he was bound to chairs, hosed down with water hoses in full military dress, ridiculed by peers and commanding officers, locked in fecal-filled dog kennels, and forced to imitate gay sex acts with fellow service members during his service in the Middle Eastern country of Bahrain.

Rocha, who was accepted to US Naval Academy prep school, resigned from the US Navy as a petty officer 3rd class with the potential of graduating as a commissioned ensign (equivalent to 2nd lieutenant or junior grade lieutenant in the other US military branches) from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

He based his reasoning for leaving the Navy as philosophical and based on principle. Rocha’s former commanding officer and ‘chief tormentor, so to speak, Chief Petty Officer Michael Toussaint, has been stripped of leadership authority and will be issued a letter of censure from the Secretary of the Navy to be placed in his military record. Toussaint will be forced to retire in January of 2010 due to the fact the Navy has decided not to extend his enlistment service. Rocha believes Toussaint’s impending departure and censure provides “[himself] and a lot of people a lot of hope,” which reaffirms that certain standards of conduct in the US armed forces will be adhered to. The former petty officer has also come out as a fervent opponent of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy barring openly gay and lesbian service members from serving in the US armed forces. Rocha has been noted as saying, by CNN, he would be willing to return to military service in the Navy provided the policy was no longer a stipulation for service; he is now a junior at the University of San Diego, majoring in political science.

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