Jack Williams rejects the table the hostess has chosen in the middle of the Mexican restaurant. He asks for the least desirable faux-leather booth in the back corner, where he can sit with his back to the wall. He can't stand to have people come up behind him. That's what his rapist, an assistant drill sergeant in the Air Force, did almost 50 years ago.
It happened three times, always at about 3 in the morning.
After the third time, Williams walked into the shower at his barracks at Lackland Air Force Base, tied a few towels together and tried to hang himself. Security guards found him unconscious.
A part of Williams died that day in 1966. He was 18. He has not been whole since.
Now 66, he looks back and ponders what his life might have been had he accomplished what he set out to do: to serve his country with pride. Instead, he has lived with rape for 47 years, with permanent injuries that make him depend on a walker, with words like "pansy" and "coward" ingrained in his head.
Sexual assault is one of two high-profile problems plaguing the military; suicide is the other: Twenty-two veterans take their lives every day.
Williams harbors both demons in his head. He is caught in the nexus of the military's two tragedies.
In May, the Pentagon released results of an anonymous survey on sexual assault: Twenty-six thousand service members reported that they had been sexually assault or harassed in 2012, up from 19,000 the previous year.
Women get most of the attention on this issue because, proportionately, their numbers are much higher. Women make up only about 15% of the active-duty force but account for 47% of sexual assault victims.
Headline-grabbing scandals have usually involved women. Two decades ago, at the Navy's "Tailhook" convention in Las Vegas, drunken aviators assaulted female recruits. Five years later, the Army brought charges against 12 commissioned and noncommissioned officers for the sexual assault of female trainees at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Most recently, 22 instructors were convicted in the Air Force's worst sex scandal at Lackland, where Williams was raped almost five decades ago.
It's men like him who make up most of the military's sexual assault cases, even though they are less likely to report their assaults. The Pentagon survey found 13,900 male victims. But 76% do not file complaints.
"There's an assumption that rape doesn't happen to men, or they must have been weak and not strong enough to fight (an assailant) off," says Sue Garrison, a psychologist at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in Florida.
Bay Pines is the only Department of Veterans Affairs facility in America that offers residential treatment for male victims of military sexual assault as well as women. Evidence suggests that men may suffer more severe symptoms and are less likely to get help, raising the specter of other problems, like suicide.
The causes of suicide are complicated and not wholly understood, but a contributing factor among veterans is sexual trauma.
A study by former Air Force psychologist Craig Bryan found that military victims of violent assault or rape were six times more likely to attempt suicide than nonvictims.
One key reason is the enormous sense of betrayal that service members feel when they are assaulted by a brother in arms. The loss of trust is magnified, says Bryan, because the military is such a tight-knit organization whose success depends on group unity and cohesion. And there is little action a victim can take other than report it.
"When it happens, you can't just quit your job or move barracks," Bryan says. "So victims feel more trapped and violated." They may worry about retribution and the impact on their careers.
A string of recent sexual assault cases has ratcheted up pressure on the military and Congress to curb the problem. One scandal involved the Air Force's former head of sexual assault prevention himself, Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, who was arrested in May after he allegedly grabbed a woman's breasts and buttocks.
For Williams, change will come too late. But it's long overdue.
"I am angry that others are going through this," he says. "If it isn't kept in the spotlight, it will go back to business as usual."
And that means more men with the most honorable intentions are destined to suffer -- and maybe even die.
It's not just about the rape
Williams tells his story on a drive from the Mexican restaurant to a split-level brick house in the suburban city of Bellevue, the childhood home where he nurtured his dreams.
In 1966, some young men feared the Vietnam War enough to dodge the draft. Williams could have, too. A bout of rheumatic fever at 3 could have made him eligible for a medical exemption because the ailment can lead to heart damage. But Williams volunteered for the Air Force.
His grandfather fought in World War I. His uncle fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. His father was in the Army. Williams figured it was his turn. He was suited for that line of work. At 14, he'd gone through rigorous training to become a police cadet. Besides, it was a matter of honor.