A retired Wisconsin Air National Guard colonel is clarifying controversial comments she made about slain Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen, saying she didn’t mean to imply that sexual harassment is the “price of admission” for women in the military.
Betsy Schoeller, who is also a senior lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, issued a statement Sunday
But Schoeller insisted she didn’t “mean to imply” she believed that sexual harassment comes with the territory for women in the military and “if you’re going to cry like a snowflake about it, you’re gonna pay the price” – as she posted days earlier on a private Facebook page for veterans.
“I did not mean to imply that this is how I feel,” Schoeller said Sunday. “I was giving voice to the messaging that women hear in the culture of sexual harassment: The message we received from the culture is not only will you suffer from sexual harassment, if you squawk about it, you will suffer even more.”
A petition calling for Schoeller to be fired from her job at the university’s School of Information Studies has eclipsed more than 131,000 signatures as of early Monday.
University officials, meanwhile, denounced her remarks in a statement Saturday but said it could not regulate the private speech of its employees. She has worked as the school for 23 years, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.
Schoeller, who retired as a colonel from the Wisconsin National Guard in 2017, told the newspaper she was sexually harassed while serving in the military. Schoeller thought her remarks about Guillen on Facebook were private, she said.
“When you look at my comment, I was not talking about one person specifically,” Schoeller said. “I was only voicing that message that we get as women. Being called names. Being called ‘sissy’ and any derogatory term you can think of.”
Schoeller said she hopes her statement issued Sunday clarifies her original post, which she insists was “misinterpreted.”
“I hope this message provides the context that was missing from my original Facebook posting,” the statement read. “Individuals cannot change the system alone. We need to stand together to be strong and to focus our energies on making sure that what happened to SPC Vanessa Guillen doesn’t happen to anyone else ever again.”
Human remains found in a shallow grave in Texas last week have been identified as Guillen, an attorney for her family said Sunday.
Guillen, 20, was last seen on April 22 at Fort Hood, where she was based. Federal and military investigators believe she was killed and dismembered by fellow soldier Aaron David Robinson, 20, who took his own life last week as police tried to contact him.
Prior to her disappearance, Guillen’s relatives said she told them she was being sexually harassed by one of her sergeants at Fort Hood, the Journal-Sentinel reported. But Army investigations have said there’s no evidence to back up those allegations.
With Post Wires