(CNN) — Shabren Kurtz-Russ wanted to join the military to start a family tradition. Her mother and father served in the Army. And now she sought to enlist in the Army National Guard.
She would follow classmates into the service. She considered active duty, too. The military offered an exciting future — plus college money.
She spoke to her mother, Sherry Kurtz, about the plan last year. That’s when a dark family secret, only hinted at earlier, was revealed: Her mother told her she was gang-raped in the Army in 1985.
Worse, the military stonewalled her mother’s effort to seek criminal charges, Kurtz alleges. Traumatized and betrayed, Kurtz had left the Army.
Her daughter was horrified.
“It was just like unbelievable, and I was disgusted,” Kurtz-Russ said. “I didn’t really know too much about what she went through. I understand why her and my dad said absolutely not (to her enlisting).”
Kurtz-Russ, now 20, won’t be joining the armed forces, she said. Ever.
Her mother, now 46 and living in Ohio, is relieved.
“There’s no way,” Kurtz said of her reaction to her daughter’s desire to enlist. She had just self-published a book about her experience. “I just told her that history has a way of repeating itself, and I wasn’t going to let history repeat itself on her.”
Their mother-daughter exchange is among the more extreme — but not necessarily uncommon — kind of conversation unfolding between parents and their children this high school graduation season.