Stephanie Schroeder joined the U.S. Marine Corps not long after 9/11. She was a 21-year-old with an associate’s degree when she reported for boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. “I felt like it was the right thing to do,” Schroeder recalls. A year and a half later, the Marines diagnosed her with a personality disorder and deemed her psychologically unfit for the Corps.
Anna Moore enlisted in the Army after 9/11 and planned to make a career of it. Moore was a Patriot missile battery operator in Germany when she was diagnosed with a personality disorder and dismissed from the Army.
Jenny McClendon was serving as a sonar operator on a Navy destroyer when she received her personality disorder diagnosis.
These women joined different branches of the military but they share a common experience: Each received the psychiatric diagnosis and military discharge after reporting a sexual assault.
Military records show the personality disorder diagnosis is being used disproportionately on women, according to military records obtained by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic under a Freedom of Information Act request.
- In the Army, 16% of all soldiers are women, but females constitute 24% of all personality disorder discharges.
- Air Force: women make up 21% of the ranks and 35% of personality disorder discharges.
- Navy: 17% of sailors are women and 26% of personality disorder discharges
- Marines: 7% of the Corps and 14% of personality disorder discharges
The records don’t reflect how many of those women had reported sexual assault.