Even if you do go forward with a case and it’s adjudicated in your favor, it’s the retaliation that kicks our ass and de-rails our careers. Why is this happening? If you wonder why some who have been assaulted have severe PTSD, it’s the retaliation compounding the original trauma. And if you don’t report and try and soldier on, it catches up with you anyways in the form of behavioral issues and suicidal ideation. How do we stop the retaliation in the military from happening so victims of crimes feel safe to report?
To answer that question, Mary Calvert met with survivors and went to congressional hearings on military sexual assault. The women she met connected her with more women, and she photographed them in their homes and communities. Through her work, she learned that just 1 in 7 victims of sexual assault in the military reported the attack; of those assaults that were reported, just 1 in 10 ever saw a trial.
ONE-FIFTH OF THE NATION’S MILITARY ISN’T PROTECTED BY REFORMS…
What happens to those accused of rape or sexual assault in the National Guard varies dramatically depending on what state you work in.
The National Guard is unlike any other branch of the military. Serving as the state militia, the governor is the commander in chief, not the president. During wartime or when they are sent overseas for a federal mission, guardsmen become federalized under Title 10 and receive all the benefits and protections offered by the U.S. Army or Air Force.
A new law passed today removes sexual assault investigations and prosecutions from the military chain of command.
California has just made a major change in the way sexual assault allegations are investigated in the state military department. On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires sexual assault cases to be investigated by outside civilian law enforcement, not by military commanders.
New legislation in Iowa would address sexual assault and retaliation in the National Guard
“I was one of many that had a career ended shortly because I simply reported a sexual assault,” Jennifer Norris said.
Norris retired as a technical sergeant from the United States Air Force in 2010 and also served in the Maine and Massachusetts National Guards. Norris testified before Congress that during her military career, she was sexually assaulted four times between 1996 and 1998. She says after she finally reported the attacks to her supervisor, she faced retaliation.
“I went back and was blown away at how much disdain and hatred I faced as a result of standing up for what was right and protecting other women,” Norris said. “That right in and of itself was the biggest betrayal I ever experienced in my life….When you have zero support and you are alone, it will push you to the place Jessica Brown has been. I have been there.”
Amy Schumer, a comedian, has depicted the unexpected turn your career takes when you become the victim of sexual assault in the military. We are not only harmed by the perpetrator but we are again harmed by the system. And currently we have two proposals in Congress that begin to address the issue. One is the Stop Act sponsored by Representative Jackie Speier. The other is the Military Justice Improvement Act sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Please watch the Amy Schumer video here before reading further.
If you keep up with Congressional efforts to address sexual assault in the military, you will find that the media discusses Senator Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act the most. But what most people do not know is that the MJIA was a compromise to our original efforts. I supported any efforts made by the Senate at the time considering we did not get the support we needed for the Stop Act from either the House of Representatives or military and women organizations. At the time, it was better then nothing and at least Senator Gillibrand addressed an option for our military members who do not report due to fear of retaliation from their Chain of Command. But it is only one element of the big picture.
Day after day I hear first hand accounts of not only the Army but all of the Armed Forces forcing troops out for PTSD or some trumped up misconduct charge. And what really gets my goat is that these are people who have been in the military for a long time, have deployed overseas, and now suffer from some kind of war injury. Is this the way that you envisioned the military would treat our troops after all that they have sacrificed.
I find it ironic that Officers who get caught with felony charges can quietly retire after the media blows it up to hold them accountable. Yet a soldier who has been in 19 years, did four rotations overseas, and snapped on the fourth rotation because you sent them there knowing they had PTSD, gets the bad conduct discharge. This is criminal. How dare you Army do this to someone with 19 years of dedicated service. What happened to the whole person concept? Why is it that a fight or flight response is now being used against a soldier when the symptoms include disassociation, irritability, distrust, fear, etc. Why is it that you act like people are faking when they just did four tours of duty.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins spoke on the Senate floor today in strong support of legislation coming before the Senate that would address the crisis of sexual assault in the military.
“Since 2004, I have been sounding the alarm over the military’s ineffective response to the growing crisis of sexual assault in the military, including the need to ensure appropriate punishment for the perpetrators, to provide adequate care for the survivors of such reprehensible crimes, and to change the culture across the military so that sexual assault is unthinkable,” said Senator Collins, who first raised this issue during an Armed Services Committee hearing ten years ago.
In her remarks on the Senate floor, she singled out for praise the courage of two Mainers who have come forward to tell their stories.
“I also want to acknowledge the courage and conviction of Jennifer Norris and Ruth Moore – two Mainers who were sexually assaulted while serving and have made it their mission to change the broken system that does not put victims first. Through their advocacy, they have helped to shine a light on this crisis and deserve our gratitude.”