Jeffrey Dahmer’s stint in the Army likely helped suppress his murderous instincts for a while. Before he enlisted, Jeffrey had already murdered his first victim, a hitchhiker named Steven Mark Hicks. Dahmer joined Ohio State University two months after the killings but dropped out after three months. 

At his father’s urging, Dahmer enlisted in the United States Army in January 1979. After serving for two years, Dahmer was honorably discharged in March 1981. Dahmer suppressed the urge to murder for six years after his release.

Dahmer didn’t murder during his military service, but he wasn’t exactly a model military man. 

Dahmer was discharged a year earlier due to his excessive drinking

After Jeffrey enrolled in college, Lionel, his father, paid a surprise visit to Jeffrey. He found his dorm room strewn with liquor bottles. Lionel had paid for the second term in advance, but Jeffrey couldn’t continue. 

Dahmer reported for duty at Fort McClellan, Alabama, and began training as a military police officer. He later transferred to Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, to train as a medical specialist. After completing a six-week course, his superiors assigned him to the 2nd Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment, 8th Infantry Division, stationed in Baumholder, West Germany. 

As the New York Times reported, Jeffrey’s room featured a poster of the heavy-metal rock band, Iron Maiden. He spent hours studying a children’s book and ‘telling boozy W.C. Fields jokes.’ 

Dahmer’s bunkmate Billy J. Capshaw said Dahmer often talked about his father. “He wanted to please his dad,” Capshaw said. “He never said anything about a brother.”

However, Dahmer’s excessive drinking hampered his military service. The problem worsened in his second year, prompting his superiors to discharge him. Dahmer was honorably discharged in March 1981 under Chapter 9 of the Code of Military Justice, which covers alcohol use by Army personnel. 

Jeffrey’s superiors didn’t believe that his problems in the Army would affect his civilian life. Following a debriefing at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, the military offered Dahmer a plane ticket to anywhere in the country. Dahmer chose Miami Beach, Florida, because of the warm weather. A few months later, he returned to Lionel’s home in Ohio. 

Dahmer allegedly turned into a different man when he drank

David Rodriguez, a man who shared a room with Dahmer in Germany, described Dahmer as a drunk ‘wimp’ who seemed incapable of hurting anyone. “It didn’t look like he ever took an interest in the anatomy,” Rodriguez said. 

However, Billy Capshaw, another of Dahmer’s roommates, gave a different account. Capshaw said Jeffrey was easy-going when sober but an entirely different animal when drunk. “When he’d drink, he’d get real violent with me,” Capshaw said. He continued:

“You could tell in his face that he wasn’t joking. It was for real. That’s why it bothered me. It was a whole different side. His face was blank. It was kind of like he was cross-eyed-like. An expression like he just wasn’t there. I’ve never seen it on anyone else’s face.”

Jeffrey reportedly sexually assaulted two men during his service

Jeffrey Dahmer was suspected of murder during his military service, but an investigation into unsolved murder cases during his brief enlistment failed to link him to the killings. However, two of his colleagues claim he was guilty of another crime: sexual assault. 

Preston Davis, then a 20-year-old, worked alongside Dahmer in the medic unit. Davis noted that when drunk, Dahmer became racist and obnoxious and would brag about killing Steven Hicks. Davis told the New York Daily News:

“Jeffrey had killed his first victim a year before joining the military, and he would get drunk in the barracks and say, ‘I killed the guy in Ohio,’ and we’d say, ‘you didn’t kill nobody!’” 

Davis said Dahmer raped him during a bungled field exercise in Belgium. The duo’s vehicle broke down three days before the mission’s end and was towed to a train station. Davis said Dahmer assaulted him during that period. 

“I believe that I was drugged because I lost time and have memory gaps. I must have been so ashamed because I had very little recollection of the event,” Davis said. Davis opined that Dahmer would have killed him had he known how to return to Germany. “He had no idea how to get back to Germany,” Davis said. 

Billy Capshaw accused Dahmer of repeated abuse. “Jeff Dahmer was a sociopath, a psychopath, a narcissist – he was insane,” Capshaw told TheWrap. Capshaw said Dahmer tortured and tied him to the bed on many occasions. He said people knew about the abuse but declined to separate him from Dahmer. 

“I thought about killing him, and I thought about killing myself,” Capshaw said. Billy said Dahmer raped him eight to ten times. He continued: “He was tying me to the bunk with a motor-pool rope. He took all my clothing from me. He would either beat me before he raped me, or he would beat me after.”

Capshaw took a rape test to prove that Dahmer raped him, but his superiors ignored the results. Billy said he endured abuse from Dahmer for over 1.5 years. Capshaw waited until his father’s death to come forward because he didn’t want his dad to know.

“The only thing I can say is karma… I don’t consider myself a victim. I’m a survivor,” he said.