A Coast Guard officer who spent years reporting discriminatory and abusive behavior by her superiors, and facing subsequent retaliation, was among 50 people honored Tuesday by National Whistleblowers Center.
The ceremony commemorated the anniversary of the law passed in 1778 stating that “it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other inhabitants thereof” to report misconduct by those in service.
Lt. Cmdr. Kimberly Young-McLear, who is Black and lesbian, had not previously spoken publicly about her story of years of abuse at the military academy, where she said her superiors would belittle, scapegoat and undermine her. Although she made efforts to report the mistreatment, Young-McLear said the complaint process failed her.
Last year, a Department of Homeland Security inspector general report found the Coast Guard mishandled the complaints process and gave Young-McLear low marks on an evaluation performance report after she made the complaints.
“I want to use this public opportunity to affirm the dignity of victims and their families while still advocating for honest, efficient and accountable workplace environments in the military,” she told Military.com, referencing the cases of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Harry Lew and Army Pvt. Danny Chen, who both died by suicide after hazing incidents.
While Coast Guard members are required to undergo workplace harassment training, the mandate does not cover workplace bullying.