SAN DIEGO --
“I was sexually assaulted when I was 8 years old,” said Lance Cpl. Jacqueline Kliewer.
Kliewer is 19 years old and a native of San Diego, where she grew up with her brother and parents in their family home.
Her life changed when she was only 8 years old. Her innocence and confidence were taken from her.
“Throughout my life I would question or doubt myself, because of what he did,” said Kliewer. “I was so young and didn’t understand.”
Kliewer said she never really understood what happened or why and always blamed herself… until now.
Kliewer met Sgt. Jennifer Bragg, a recruiter with Recruiting Sub-Station Poway, during her senior year of high school. Kliewer’s band teacher helped schedule a meeting and from then on their bond and sisterhood was formed.
“My relationship with her was both inspiring and a blessing,” said Kliewer. “She taught me both her passion for the Marine Corps and her passion as a recruiter. She went above and beyond with and for me.”
Kliewer had a few obstacles on her way to earning the title of a United States Marine. She had to lose 20 pounds, increase her physical fitness scores, and refine her performance skills with her tuba to earn her spot in the Musician Enlistment Option Program.
“They encouraged me every day and constantly noticed my progress, physically and mentally,” said Kliewer. “They always kept me in check with my goals and future.”
Beyond getting prepared for the Marine Corps, she was battling a situation at home as well. For 11 months Kliewer was living on her own.
“I worked a part time job at a frozen yogurt store,” said Kliewer. “I relied on tips and paychecks to pay for food and things I needed.”
“I am grateful being able to become a Marine and to reach this point. It helps me understand the depth of being a Marine and has made me exceptionally grateful for being a musician and playing in honor for those who are serving today.” Lance Cpl. Jacqueline Kliewer, Naval School of Music student
Although she was able to stay with a friend, this was a dark time for Kliewer. She had to dig deep and remember what she was striving for.
“What kept me going was the finish line,” said Kliewer. “Going to boot camp, graduating, and starting my career at such a young age was what I kept in mind. My goal of becoming a Marine kept me going.”
Kliewer graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina on January 3, 2020, from Platoon 4001, Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion.
I gained confidence and found inner strength during recruit training, recalled Kliewer. She found her voice.
“The Marine Corps has helped me to speak out about the sexual assault that happened to me when I was younger,” said Kliewer. “If my drill instructors had not instilled the courage and strength they did in boot camp, I wouldn’t have found my strength and I wouldn’t have spoken up.”
Now, Kliewer wants to help other victims find their voices and help be an advocate.
“Many people don’t have the strength to speak up yet,” said Kliewer. “Some people tell me that I help them to not feel alone, others thank me for just bringing awareness, and others find me as someone to look up to and it brings them courage and strength.”
Not only has she created a support network for victims or those who also advocate for sexual assault awareness, her relationship with her own family has strengthened and grown since she has joined the Marine Corps.
Kliewer did not let her sexual assault hold her back. Through the Marine Corps and her mentors, she has found strength, inspiration and the motivation to continue bettering herself and others around her.
Each Marine Corps unit has a uniformed victim advocate who is an active duty Marine who volunteers to provide information, guidance, referrals and support to Marines and Sailors who have been sexually assaulted.
“I am grateful being able to become a Marine and to reach this point,” said Kliewer. “It helps me understand the depth of being a Marine and has made me exceptionally grateful for being a musician and playing in honor for those who are serving today.”