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Military Women Protest in Support of the #MeToo Movement

metoo

By Debbie Gregory.

January 8, 2018 was a momentous date in the lives of a group of military sexual assault survivors, as the #MeToo movement spread from politics to Hollywood to the media and finally to the military.

With messages such as “Denial is not a policy” and “Veterans demand reform,” protesters stood their ground as they demanded that the Pentagon take increased action to stop sexual assaults in the military.

Within the ranks of the male-dominated U.S. military, a culture of sexual assault, harassment and retaliation for those who come forward remains pervasive. But just as heavyweights in the aforementioned industries have fallen, so too is it time for all military personnel, from the highly decorated to the peers to be held accountable.

The Pentagon estimates that for the last three years, more than 18,000 sexual assaults have taken place, although the number is grossly below the actual number since two-thirds of victims don’t report. Convictions are rare.

While Army Col. Rob Manning said there was “zero tolerance” for sexual assault or harassment in the military, the reality is that the misogynistic military culture puts military sexual assault cases in the hands of commanders, which is akin to having the fox guard the henhouse.

Attorney Monica Medina, who faced career retaliation after rebuffing the advances of a senior office while in the Army, helped draft protections for women in the military who were assaulted, including ensuring that victims have a lawyer and removing certain cases from the chain of command.

Of course, there are men who have also been victimized by military sexual assault, and the movement is for their benefit as well. But their numbers are nowhere near the 80% of female troops who have experienced some sort of sexual harassment.

“Women in service to their nation deserve better,” Medina said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

 

Four Star General Accused of Sexual Assault

lichte

By Debbie Gregory.

A retired four-star general, who at one point was head of Air Mobility Command, is being investigated for the alleged sexual assault of a female colonel who was under his command.

Retired Gen. Arthur Lichte is the subject of the investigation. Three incidents of alleged sexual assault occurred between April 2007 and April 2009.

Lichte, from New York City, entered the Air Force in 1971 as a distinguished graduate of Manhattan College’s ROTC program. He held command positions at squadron, group and wing levels.

In addition to his command experience, Lichte held headquarters-level assignments at Strategic Air Command, Air Mobility Command, the Air Force and U.S. Transportation Command. He retired on Jan. 1, 2010.

“The Air Force takes all allegations of sexual assault or harassment very seriously,” said Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. “We are committed to upholding the high standards and values of our service and ensuring an environment of dignity and respect, where sexual assault or harassment is not tolerated, and where there is clear accountability placed on all airmen at every level.”

According to military justice experts, there’s very little guidance on how to prosecute such high-ranking officers, and there are significant barriers to doing so.

Generals are rarely brought to trial within the military justice system, much less convicted, and punishment is often just a demotion in rank. Many members of Congress would prefer that independent military prosecutors handle the cases rather than commanders.

Linda Card, a spokeswoman for the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, confirmed the investigation of the allegations against Lichte, but would not comment further or provide additional details about the case.

Victims of sexual assault in the military have two options to report it. They can file a “restricted” report, in which the victim does not identify the attacker and seeks counseling but does not require a criminal investigation. In an “unrestricted” report, as is the case with Lichte’s accuser, the matter is referred to the accuser’s unit commander and triggers a criminal investigation.

The Defense Department’s most recent annual report on sexual assault in the military counted more than 4,500 unrestricted reports and nearly 1,500 restricted reports in 2015. The survey results also indicate that over 16,000 service members intervened in situations they believed to be at risk for sexual assault.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Unacceptable: The Sexual Assault of Military Children

The U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas is pictured in this photo courtesy of the U.S. military barracks public affairs department. Bradley Manning was sentenced on August 22, 2013, to 35 years in a military prison for turning over more than 700,000 classified files to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of secret data in the nation's history, and will serve his sentence at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks. (REUTERS/U.S. military barracks public affairs department)

By Debbie Gregory.

In one of the most alarming and despicable statistics released by the Pentagon, hundreds of military children are being sexually abused each year, with more inmates in military prisons for child sex crimes than for any other offense.

Incidents involving sexual assault in which the children of service members are victims occur hundreds of times each year, according to the Defense Department. The abuse is committed most often by male enlisted troops, between E-4 and E-6 ranks, which contain the largest number of active-duty personnel and the largest number of parents in the military.

Three Democratic Party senators have urged Defense Secretary Ash Carter to end secrecy in the military justice system. They demanded that documents from sex crimes trials be more open and available. In a December 8th letter, the senators — Barbara Boxer of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii — told Carter they are concerned the department may be underestimating how many sexual assaults are occurring in the military.

For victims, the effects of child sexual abuse can be devastating. Victims may feel significant distress and display a wide range of psychological symptoms, both short- and long-term.  They may feel powerless, ashamed, and distrustful of others. The abuse may disrupt victims’ development and increase the likelihood that they will experience other sexual assaults in the future.

Between 2010 and 2014, there were at least 1,584 substantiated cases of military dependents being sexually abused. Enlisted service members were the perpetrators in 840 of the cases. In 332 cases, family members of the victims were responsible.

We owe it to these children, who already sacrifice so much, to live and grow up in a safe environment. Parents need to remain ever vigilant, but our leaders also need to take some responsibility for prevention and punishment.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Mil Sexual Assault Victims Face Retaliation: Military Connection

military connection: milassault

By Debbie Gregory.

Military sexual assault survivors are still experiencing retaliation for reporting sexual assaults, this according to a report issued by Human Rights Watch. The international organization focuses on defending human rights around the world.

Victims who report military sexual assault are 12 times more likely to experience retaliation than to see their attacker convicted of a sex crime, according to the report.

Many survivors suffered bullying and isolation. Many experienced damage to their careers, such as being subjected to poor performance evaluations, punishments for petty infractions, assignments to demeaning jobs such as picking up garbage. What’s  worse is that in many cases, the attacks never stop.

The report, entitled “Embattled: Retaliation against Sexual Assault Survivors in the U.S. Military,” found that retaliation had an effect on a victim’s willingness to come forward to report the assault. Furthermore, the report found that ending retaliation plays a critical role in addressing the problem of sexual assault in the military.

The statistics are staggering; the Pentagon’s latest report on sexual assault found there were about 18,900 sexual assaults in the military last year, of which only 6,131 were reported.

Troops who suffer sexual assault have complications civilian survivors do not. Service members commit to the military for several years and cannot simply quit their jobs to get away from their perpetrators or co-workers who harass them. And because troops pride themselves on looking out for one another, the trauma that comes from a sexual assault is compounded, the report said.

Among the report’s recommendations are:

  • Congress strengthening the Military Whistleblower Protection Act to give servicemembers the same level of protection as civilians.
  • Expanding initiatives like the Special Victims Counsel program, to reward those who take retaliation seriously and hold accountable those who do not.
  • Congress establishing a ban on criminal charges or disciplinary action against victims for minor collateral misconduct that would not have come to light if the victim had not reported a sexual assault.
  • Improving outreach to make military sexual assault survivors aware of special victim counsels and victims’ legal counsel.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Military Connection: Mil Sexual Assault Victims Face Retaliation: by Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Under-reported Sexual Assaults Go Unpunished

assault

By Debbie Gregory.

In a scathing critique of the Defense Department’s efforts to curb sexual assaults, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has accused the Pentagon of covering up some sexual assaults by underreporting many of the cases. Most of these cases involve civilian women living near bases, and non-military spouses of service members. Gillibrand, an outspoken critic of the military’s leniency in regards to sexual assault, continues to champion the cause of the victims.

Gillibrand’s request for the case files followed a February, 2014 AP investigation into the U.S. military’s handling of sexual assault cases that occurred in Japan. These instances revealed a pattern of random and inconsistent judgments.

To determine whether the same thing was happening at bases in the United States, Gillibrand asked then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for the case files of sexual assault cases that were investigated and adjudicated from 2009 to 2014. These instances took place at the Fort Hood, Texas, Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, Marine Corps Camp Pendleton in California and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

When Gillibrand’s staff examined these sexual assault casess at the military’s four largest bases, they found that 107 of the sexual assault punishments were too lenient, with the word of the alleged assailant believed more often than that of the victim. Less than 25% of the cases went to trial, with only eleven cases ending in a conviction for the sex crime. In more than 50% of the cases, female civilians were the victims.

Laura Seal, a Defense Department spokeswoman, said the department does not have authority to include civilians in its surveys.

To prevent the fox from guarding the henhouse, so to speak, Gillibrand has backed legislation that would remove commanders from the process of deciding whether serious crimes, including sexual misconduct cases, go to trial. That judgment would rest with seasoned military attorneys who have prosecutorial experience. The Pentagon is opposed to the change.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Military Connection: Under-reported Sexual Assaults Go Unpunished: by Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Recognition for Sexual Assault Response Coordinators

Military Connection: sexual assault victim

By Debbie Gregory.

Last month, the Defense Department honored six sexual assault response coordinators, or SARCs, one from each branch of service, for their heroic efforts assisting sexual assault victims and their commitment in preventing further assaults.

Led by Director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow, the panel considered the efforts of more than 2,000 SARCs from each branch of the military and the National Guard Bureau.

Because sexual assault is such an underreported crime, it is critical that every survivor is treated with the sensitivity they deserve, the privacy they prefer, and the responsive support they need. “Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Victim Advocates provide a beacon of support to the victims of sexual assault and ensure they get the help they need,” Snow said.

Exceptional SARCs of the Year were chosen from the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, National Guard and Coast Guard as part of National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

The SARC is the single point of contact for victim care, from the initial reporting of sexual assault through disposition and resolution of issues related to a survivor’s health and well-being.

Every year, since 2009, the Defense Department has recognized exceptional SARCs for providing noteworthy prevention and response care and support to military victims of sexual assault.

This year’s 2015 Exceptional Sexual Assault Response Coordinators are:

Pamela Reeves, Air Force

First Lt. Nicole Myers, Army

Erinn Izykowski, Marine Corps

Sharlyne Hays, Navy

Heather Mattson, National Guard

Lauren Jennings, Coast Guard

For any victim of military sexual assault, help is available in a variety of ways. The Telephone Helpline at (877) 995-5247 allows users to speak with trained Safe Helpline staff for personalized advice and support. Help is available online via Safe Helpline’s website at https://www.safehelpline.org. Texting a location or zip code to 55-247 in the U.S. or (001) 202-470-5546 outside the U.S. allows users to receive contact information for the sexual assault response coordinator; medical, legal, chaplain, and military police personnel; civilian sexual assault service providers and Department of Veterans Affairs resources.

Also available is the award-winning Safe Helpline Mobile App, designed specifically for military sexual assault survivors. It can be downloaded for free at the Apple and Google Play App Stores. The Safe HelpRoom is a ground-breaking online group chat service, allowing military sexual assault survivors to connect with one another in a moderated and secure environment. Find Safe HelpRoom information at SafeHelpline.org.

If you are a victim of military sexual assault, the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the ArmyNavyAir ForceMarinesCoast Guard,Guard and ReserveVeterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Boardinformation on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Recognition for Sexual Assault Response Coordinators: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Not In My Squad

notinmysquad

By Debbie Gregory.

With sexual assault and sexual harassment threatening the strength, readiness and morale of the U.S. military, the Army’s senior non-commissioned officer has announced an initiative to rid the ranks of these problems.

The zero tolerance policy, “‘Not in my squad’ is a promise that each leader must take in order to care for those in his or her charge, according to Daniel A. Dailey, Sgt. Major of the Army. He stated, “‘Not in my squad’ is about junior leaders taking ownership of solutions.”

According to the Department of Defense (DOD), tens of thousands of unwanted sexual contacts occur in the military every year, yet only a fraction of those get reported. Military sexual violence impacts both men and women. More than half of all incidents of sexual violence happen to men. While rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment are strongly associated with a wide range of mental health conditions for both men and women veterans, they are the leading causes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among women veterans.

The way that “Not in my Squad?” will work is that division-level and corps sergeants major will identify their best squad leaders, selecting a diverse group of 32 squad leaders from across the force. These squad leaders will discuss recommendations on how junior NCOs can build and sustain a climate of dignity, respect, trust, and inclusion.

“We are headed in the right direction to change the culture of reporting and ultimately preventing sexual assault and harassment,” Daily said. “We must remain committed to making further advances along our five lines of effort – prevention, investigation, accountability, advocacy and assessment and we must continue to work on fostering a climate where individuals are not afraid of retaliation or the stigma of reporting a crime.”

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, speaking about a video he had seen during the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) summit he attended, said, “This is really about the core of who we are and making sure everybody underneath us understands we will not tolerate these acts.”

Citing statistics outlined in the 2014 Department of Defense report to the president on sexual assault prevention and response, Dailey said the reporting of sexual assault in the Army had increased by 12 percent, a statistic he viewed as a vote of confidence.

“Not in my squad, not in our Army: we are trusted professionals, so I know all of us will join together and continue to tirelessly and tenaciously focus on the well-being, safety and dignity of our Soldiers and equally dedicated civilian corps,” Army Secretary John McHugh said.

“Sexual assault and sexual harassment shatters good order – it shatters discipline, but more than anything else it shatters the lives of our Soldiers and our larger Army family, and for all those reasons and so many more, we’ve got to do everything we can, day after day, hour after hour to stamp out sexual assault and reprisal,” McHugh said. “We have to instill trust and confidence in our Soldiers and our civilians so they know they can come forward to leaders and when they do, they won’t be victimized again.”

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Not In My Squad: By Debbie Gregory

 

Military Connection: PTSD Suspected in AF Vet’s Suicide

Jamie Brunette

By Debbie Gregory.

Air Force Reserve Capt. Jamie Brunette went to war for her country. In her 11 year Air Force career, Brunette deployed twice to Afghanistan. She was named Contracting Officer of the Year by the Air Mobility Command for her work overseeing nearly $80 million in security contracts. She also worked to open Orangetheory Fitness with a husband and wife team, while taking on a new role in the Reserves. Brunette also suffered from PTSD, and sadly, on February 9th, she committed suicide.

Twenty-two United States veterans commit suicide a day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Recent research has suggested that while women veterans are far less likely to commit suicide as compared to their male counterparts, they are three times more likely to commit suicide than women that have never served the Armed Forces.

Upon returning home, the 30-year-old began to withdraw and seemed reluctant to talk about her deployment. Heather Milner, Brunette’s roommate, had spoken to Brunette about her career previously, as she was considering joining the Air Force. Brunette told Milner that a normal day in Afghanistan was “pretty scary.” Brunette said her troop would be under mortar attacks on a daily basis and that they had to run and hide in the bunkers.

Brunette’s friends and family are also questioning whether Brunette might have been the victim of a sexual assault while she was in the military.

“I knew that she was at one point getting counseling from the VA, but I didn’t know when she started going or how often she was going,” Milner says.

Capt. Brunette’s family and friends gathered to honor her memory and raise awareness about PTSD. Milner hopes her friend’s tragic story will help other’s overcome their battles and seek help when needed.

“Jamie was full of life, and I think if she’s looking down right now, I really think that it would make her so happy to know that her story can help someone else,” Milner says.

Jackie Leverich, Brunette’s sister, said, “Jamie had a passion for life and a contagious smile. She was always upbeat and positive and had a way of making your bad day good with a cheery word or a good laugh. I wish we would have known she was hurting so badly, and maybe we could have done something to help her.”

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: PTSD Suspected in AF Vet’s Suicide: By Debbie Gregory