The House debates the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, which directs the VA to develop and implement a comprehensive program to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans. The bill is named for an Iraq veteran who took his own life, and recognizes the special needs of veterans suffering from PTSD and elderly veterans who are at high risk for depression and experience high rates of suicide. -Rep Leonard Boswell (October 23, 2007)
Seven Vets Under VA’s Care Died by Suicide in Washington (2008):
They served their country honorably but after risking their life in combat abroad, coping with coming home was too much. In the last three months seven servicemen being treated by Spokane’s VA Hospital have committed suicide. -4 News Now (April 29, 2008)
Senator Patty Murray Alleges VA Cover-up of Veteran Suicide (2008):
Despite recent efforts by the Veterans Administration to prevent veteran suicide, seven have committed suicide in the Inland Northwest in the last four months and US Senator Patty Murray is calling the situation unacceptable. -4 News Now (May 1, 2008)
Katie Couric investigates an alarming trend in the U.S. military, as more and more female soldiers have come forward with tales of sexual abuse at the hands of male soldiers and superior officers. -CBS (March 17, 2009)
Listen to a NYPD sting operation recording of Harvey Weinstein here.
Both “The Invisible War” and “The Hunting Ground” were documentaries produced and directed by Hollywood filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. The Invisible War was an unvetted documentary about sexual assault and rape in the U.S. military. It was lauded by the masses, showcased at the Pentagon, and apparently used to influence Senator Claire McCaskill’s military justice legislation. Before we could wrap our heads around how these filmmakers had silenced veteran’s voices (again), they released The Hunting Ground, another unvetted documentary about sexual assault and rape on our nation’s campuses. And now we are learning that these documentaries were both funded and distributed by “serial predator” and Hollywood movie executive Harvey Weinstein of the Weinstein Company. In the wake of this provable scandal, Amy Ziering came to the defense of the indefensible and admitted in an interview that The Invisible War resulted in thirty five pieces of legislation passed by Congress.
The problem is the only laws passed were Senator Claire McCaskill’s bills. By taking credit for Claire McCaskill’s legislation (that military and veterans did not want), Ziering is admitting to undermining veteran’s efforts to secure due process rights for service members. We wanted them to have due process rights in the military justice system AND with non judicial punishment, retaliation, mental health, security clearance, and discharge. There’s nothing to take credit for unless you back Senator Claire McCaskill’s flawed military sexual assault legislation. Veterans resoundingly wanted the Military Justice Improvement Act sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and supported by multiple bi-partisan Senators including conservatives who saw the constitutional issues with the command directed approach. BUT it was railroaded by Senator Claire McCaskill, Senator Carl Levin (now retired), and Senator Kelly Ayotte (now fired). And obviously backed by the filmmakers of a documentary about sexual assault funded and distributed by the very serial predator veterans were trying to hold accountable, especially the leadership tasked with implementing Senator McCaskill’s bills.
The connection has been made. In the wake of the flawed and failed policy in both the military and on college campuses, what these folks felt they knew was best actually created new victims. And it isn’t coincidental that the legislation passed in the military mirrors the unconstitutional use of preponderance of the evidence (50%+) on college campuses. This 2011 guidance came from Obama’s Department of Education Office of Civil Rights and Senator Claire McCaskill and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are trying to get the policy codified as law with the CASA Act. In a stunning twist, newly appointed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos reversed the harmful policy and reinstated due process protections for the accused on campus. The days of believe all women OR ELSE and holding institutions of authority hostage if you don’t believe the alleged victim are over on our college campuses. Campuses are able to reverse the harmful policy guidance but veterans have to reverse 35 pieces of sexual assault specific legislation that have had devastating consequences on military members and their families.
For all of its flaws and fabrications, “The Hunting Ground,” Harvey Weinstein’s activist documentary film about sexual assault on college campuses, finally succeeded in helping to actually identify a real predator — the filmmaker himself. And, although some of his apologists like filmmaker Rob Reiner tried to excuse Mr. Weinstein’s predatory behavior by saying that he should be lauded for having funded the film to expose the epidemic of rape on college campuses, “The Hunting Ground” helped to fuel a moral panic about sex abuse that directly led to Mr. Weinstein’s own professional demise…The good news is that as more and more powerful people become swept up in the hysteria surrounding sexual assault and people see themselves as vulnerable to such charges, the panic will end as spontaneously as it began. In some ways, a moral panic can be viewed as a “correction” — not unlike a market correction. We needed to bring attention to the Harvey Weinsteins lurking among us. Perhaps now we can now begin to look at sexual assault more rationally — identifying the “real” predators among us. Prof. Anne Hendershott, Washington Times
Army Intelligence Officer Captain Nathan Smith, 28, is suing President Barack Obama in federal court claiming the war with ISIS/ISIL is unconstitutional and illegal. Captain Smith alleges President Obama does not have authorization to engage in a fight with Syria. At the time of the case filing in May 2016, Captain Smith was overseas deployed to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. The original suit was rejected in November 2016 ruling that Captain Smith ‘didn’t have standing to sue and that disputes over war powers are best left to Congress and the president to fight out in the political arena.’ In April 2017, Captain Smith asked an appeals court to take the case and settle the issue once and for all.
On February 12, 2015, President Obama signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act into law at the White House. -The Obama White House (February 12, 2015)
Summary: Learn more about the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act and the Administration’s commitment to help veterans.
The new suicide prevention law is named in honor of Clay Hunt, an extraordinary young Texan and decorated Marine who served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like too many of our veterans, Clay struggled with depression and post-traumatic stress after he came home. Sadly, Clay’s life ended much too soon when he tragically committed suicide in 2011 at the age of only 28.
This new law builds on a long history of executive actions the President has issued to improve access to mental health services for members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families. The Clay Hunt Act will:
Require annual third-party evaluations of VA’s mental health care and suicide prevention programs
Create a centralized website with resources and information for veterans about the range of mental health services available from the VA
Require collaboration on suicide prevention efforts between VA and non-profit mental health organizations
President Obama passes law to prevent suicide among military members. -CNN (March 31,2016)
“The Pentagon has announced new steps to deter assaults and make it easier to prosecute offenders, a move that follows President Obama’s recent remark that sexual assault “has no place” in the U.S. military.
Still, many victims believe it will be difficult to change a military culture that makes it tough for the victims to report these crimes. For victims, the nightmare starts with the attack. Many say that things get worse when they try to do something about it.”
“We anticipate maybe about 14 or 15 percent of people who have been sexually assaulted come forward to report.” -Air Force Maj. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog
The family of slain Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach is hailing recent provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act that profoundly change the way the Department of Defense will handle sexual assault charges.
The Defense STRONG Act has cleared both the House and the Senate and is awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature. Provisions include access to legal counsel for victims and the right to request a base transfer.
Lauterbach’s mother, Mary Lauterbach of Vandalia, said the new law would have made the difference in the case of her daughter, who was denied a base transfer after accusing fellow Marine Cesar Laurean of sexual assault. “Maria would be alive today if the base transfer had been available to her,” she said.
Turner concurred, “In civilian life you have complete control of your movements, and if you’re in an unsafe situation you can remove yourself. In military life, the victim needs permission to take even basic self-preservation actions.”
In the News:
New provisions handed down from the Department of Defense are giving sexual assault victims in the military rights they never had before. It’s all thanks to the fight from Congressman Mike Turner and a local mother Mary Lauterbach. The provisions make certain that a victim has legal counsel throughout the whole process so they understand what their legal rights are and how to protect themselves. The provisions also remove the accused from the situation and not the victim. -WKEF/WRGT (August 15, 2013)
A major hurdle cleared for sexual assault victims in the military. Congress passed a bill that would give victims rights and protection they never had before. The push came after the tragic murder of local marine Maria Lauterbach and her unborn son. Congress approved a bill that would give military sexual assault victims legal counsel and criminalize retaliation against any victim. “If Maria had had this, she would be alive today, it’s very important.” The bill now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature. -WKEF/WRGT (December 20, 2013)
Law protecting military victims of sexual assault discussed. -WDTN-TV (May 1, 2018)
Key changes in military policy
By executive order, communication between victims and victim advocates will now be privileged. Previously conversations between victim and victim advocates can be subpoenaed in court, making victims reluctant to come forward. Pending legislation HR 1540, passed by both the House and Senate, provides for:
Legal assistance for victims of sexual assault. Previously, only defendants in the military have been guaranteed access to a lawyer.
Stricter training guidelines and greater oversight for Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Sexual Assault Victim Advocates.
Retention of sexual assault records with lifetime access for service members.
The victim’s right to a base transfer or unit transfer. Under the new law, these requests will be expedited, with decisions being made within 72 hours and the bias should be in favor of the victim.
A profile of Clay Hunt, a Marine who recently took his own life while waiting for upgraded benefits from the VA. (May 31, 2011)
“Clay had the world at his fingertips,” a friend recalls. Why did the Marine combat vet take his own life? -CBS News (March 3, 2013)
President Obama makes remarks before signing the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. -CBSN (February 12, 2015)
On February 12, 2015, President Obama signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act into law at the White House. -The Obama White House (February 12, 2015)
President Obama signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. -C-Span (February 12, 2015)
The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act is law tonight. -WGAL TV (February 12, 2015)
Clay Hunt, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran
Marine and veteran advocate Clay Hunt died by suicide in his Sugar Land, Texas home on March 31, 2011. Clay Hunt was open about his journey with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from combat and used his advocacy to help other service members and veterans struggling with the invisible battle. His unexpected death prompted his family to speak out and they shared that his perceived ill treatment by the Department of Veterans Affairs was part of the reason he took his own life. In their quest to get justice for their son, they were able to inspire the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act for Veterans passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama on February 12, 2015. According to President Obama’s website, the bill would require annual third-party evaluations of VA’s mental health care and suicide prevention programs; create a centralized website with resources and information for veterans about the range of mental health services available from the VA; and require collaboration on suicide prevention efforts between VA and non-profit mental health organizations. On March 13, 2019, AMVETS published a press release revealing their outrage with the Department of Veterans Affairs Clay Hunt Report. They requested a new report from the Veterans Affairs immediately, one that utilizes an outcomes based approach.
Movie Description: In 1997, new Army recruit Barry Winchell (Troy Garity) is assigned to a base in Tennessee. He quickly befriends the quick-tempered Justin Fisher (Shawn Hatosy), who struggles with drug problems. One night, they venture out to a local bar hosting a drag show. Calpernia Addams (Lee Pace), a transsexual drag queen, fascinates Barry, and they strike up a relationship. As Barry and Calpernia grow closer, Justin becomes bitter and recruits another soldier (Philip Eddolls) to help get revenge. (112 minutes)
Soldier’s Girl Trailer | Showtime Entertainment
The story behind the movie Soldier’s Girl.
Celebrating the 15th year anniversary of the release of cable network Showtime’s “Soldier’s Girl.” New Army recruit Barry Winchell is assigned to a base in Tennessee. One night out to a local bar hosting a drag show. Calpernia Addams an in-transition transsexual drag queen, fascinates Barry, and they strike up a relationship. Troy Garity plays Winchell and in his film debut, Lee Pace exquisitely plays the role of Calpernia.
Vanity Fair Confidential featured an episode called Don’t Ask Don’t Kill on Investigation Discovery highlighting the case of Army Pfc Barry Winchell at Fort Campbell, Kentucky in 1999. Winchell was bludgeoned to death by a fellow soldier while he lay asleep in his cot on July 5 in the barracks. Winchell was described by his friends as someone who would give the shirt off his back for you. He was a model soldier and had dreams of becoming a Warrant Officer. He was a member of the elite Screaming Eagles, 101st Airborne and was considered a perfect fit for the military. He was described by fellow soldiers as a 50 caliber expert.
After Barry Winchell died, the military immediately began downplaying what had occurred on base at Fort Campbell. They initially claimed it was a fight that had gone too far. They told the family that Barry Winchell had been kicked in the head with a boot but his injuries did not match that theory. As a result, the family and media outlets were convinced the military was hiding the real story and believed they were trying to cover up the crime. Why? The military concluded that this was a rare soldier on soldier attack in their barracks but the claim that he was kicked in the head did not match the crime scene either. Although the military was tasked with the investigation of the murder, they declined to speculate on a motive.
The Army was not cooperating with anyone. -Vanity Fair Confidential
When Barry’s girlfriend Calpernia Addams learned about what happened to Barry, he was on life support and considered brain dead. He died twelve hours after the attack and she didn’t get an opportunity to see him. Calpernia learned that he had been murdered on base and believed that there was more to this story then what the Army was sharing. As a result, she set out to make sure both Barry’s parents and the media knew what she knew and suspected had happened. Calpernia was born a boy. She served in the US Navy as a transsexual and then once she got out of the military, she began her transition from man to woman. When Calpernia and Barry met, they hit it off immediately and started dating. When she met Barry, she was halfway to becoming a woman. She lovingly shared that Barry accepted her for who she was and supported her in her transition from man to woman.
Calpernia strongly believed that people were blurring the lines between whether Barry was gay or straight. She wanted people to know that he was straight and he liked women. Calpernia believed that Barry’s troubles began with an anonymous accusation that Barry was gay. She claimed that a fellow soldier said he saw Barry giving oral sex to a man in a Nashville gay bar. But no one believed it and his military comrades didn’t think he was gay. Calpernia believed that it was Barry’s roommate, Justin Fisher, who started spreading the rumors in an effort to cause harm to Barry. In 1999 the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was in effect and a soldier could in fact lose their career if they were found out. Justin Fisher didn’t have the best reputation. He was described as someone who thought he was a gangster even though he was from Nebraska. And some believed that Justin never should have been allowed to join the military.
According to Calpernia, Justin Fisher and Barry Winchell had a love/hate relationship. Fisher tormented him, joked about his sexuality, about him being a homosexual, and kept calling him a faggot. He told others that he didn’t trust him and eventually openly spread rumors that Barry was gay. Fisher also blackmailed Barry with his alleged homosexuality. He told their Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) about him being gay knowing that Barry could lose his career under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policy. Back in those days, once accused of being gay, you were dead in the water in a military setting. Some believe this case reveals that if gone unchecked the military can become an incubator for hate. At the time of DADT, it was virtually impossible to report anti-gay harassment and Barry’s family and friends were not quite sure how he dealt with the regular doses of harassment. As evidenced in this case and many others, he had nowhere to turn without fear of losing his cherished career.
At the time of DADT, it was virtually impossible to report anti-gay harassment without fear of losing your career. ~Vanity Fair Confidential
The military was in charge of the investigation because the crime occurred on a federal base. As with many cases, family, friends, and the media forced the Army to be accountable for what happened on their base on their watch. So as the investigation into Barry’s Winchell’s death continued, we learned what actually happened. Calvin Glover, an eighteen year old new recruit, was ultimately charged with the murder of Barry Winchell. Observers felt that he did it because of a combination of too many men, too much alcohol, and too little to do. The day before the murder, Calvin and Winchell got into a fight. Apparently Winchell dealt him one punch in the face and he went down. Calvin who was highly intoxicated swore he would get him back but Winchell apologized to him the next day and it appeared that everything was fine. Unfortunately, Justin Fisher (Winchell’s roommate) was provoking Calvin all day long asking him if he was going to take Winchell’s abuse.
That same night after Calvin Glover had consumed seventeen beers, he decided he was going to bed. Fisher went to his room and told him that Barry was telling everyone that he beat him up and they were all laughing about it. Fisher handed Calvin a wooden bat, suggested he hit Barry with it, and Calvin said he felt compelled to use it. In a drunken, peer pressured stupor, Calvin hit Barry Winchell multiple times in the head with the wooden bat. Barry Winchell was asleep and couldn’t defend himself. After Calvin was done hitting Barry, Fisher was laughing, jumping up and down, and told Calvin that they would keep it in the family. Then Calvin immediately began to destroy evidence. Fisher acted like he stumbled upon Winchell on the cot and was trying to help him. The soldiers tried calling 911 but they were not able to get through to emergency services on a base phone. Barry was taken to the hospital and twelve hours later, he was dead. Everyone in the barracks was wondering who would come in the barracks and kill them.
The soldiers tried calling 911 but they were not able to get through to emergency services on a base phone. -Vanity Fair Confidential
In the course of the investigation, Justin Fisher eventually identified Calvin Glover as the culprit. As a result of Calpernia Addams and others that stepped forward, we learned that there was more to the story underneath the surface. We learned that Justin Fisher had a much larger role in the crime then he was willing to admit. Justin Fisher introduced Calpernia Addams to Barry Winchell. Apparently Justin Fisher was interested in Calpernia Addams and after she chose Barry, he asked her if she would hook him up with one of her drag queen friends. Justin ended up hooking up with Kimmie Mayfield, who was a man. Everyone suspected that Justin was interested in guys because of his relationship with Kimmie. They hooked up several times in the course of a few months. We also learned this wasn’t Justin’s first walk on the wild side. He had a history of experimentation. Barry shared with Calpernia that one time he woke up to Justin playing with his feet. Calpernia deduced that Justin may have been jealous of Calpernia being with Barry or vice versa. It was noted that people tend to hate those who remind them of something they don’t want to face.
In the end about 90% of the soldiers who served with Barry Winchell, Calvin Glover, and Justin Fisher didn’t think this was a hate crime but instead a crime of passion. They did not witness any anti-gay rage; but they did witness too much alcohol. One of the soldiers believed that Justin Fisher also hit Barry Winchell with the bat because of the blood spatter evidence left at the crime scene. It matched someone who was left handed and Fisher was left handed. One of the soldiers mentioned this to Fisher and Fisher told him he was in the wrong career and should be a detective instead. The soldiers who served with them believed that Justin Fisher was the murderer and Calvin Glover was the murder weapon. Calvin felt pressured by Justin Fisher to hit Winchell while he was intoxicated. It is suspected that Fisher hit Winchell with the bat as well and may have been the one that dealt the fatal blows. Calvin participated in the Vanity Fair programming by phone from prison and did in fact express remorse for his role in Barry Winchell’s death.
Both Calvin Glover and Justin Fisher were court martialed. In the end, Calvin Glover was convicted of pre-meditated murder and was sentenced to life in prison with an opportunity for parole. Justin Fisher was charged as an accessory and restricted to his barracks while he was going through trial. Observers felt that it was ridiculous that Fisher was restricted to his barracks when in fact he was the mastermind of the murder. He too was convicted and sentenced to twelve and half years but was released early in 2006 after only serving seven years. Observers felt that Justin Fisher’s sentence was a miscarriage of justice considering it never would have happened if it wasn’t for him pushing Calvin Glover to hit Barry Winchell with the baseball bat that night. Justin Fisher now lives in the Mid-West and declined to comment on this Vanity Fair episode. He walks as a free man. In retrospect, Calvin Glover shared that he feels like this was a love triangle gone wrong and he wishes that he could take it all back.
At the end of the programming, Pat and Wally Kutteles (Barry’s parents) shared that they sent their son off to serve in the military, they did not send him off to be beaten to death with a bat while he was sleeping. Dixon Osborn from the Servicemen’s Legal Defense Network (SLDN) believed that the military simply wanted to sweep it under the rug with no connection to the gay reference. The military hoped the general public, the media, and Barry’s parents would just accept that it was a drunken brawl. All those involved felt like the military investigation was a joke. Calpernia Addams, Barry’s parents and friends, and the SLDN wanted to honor Barry’s memory by exposing the truth about Barry’s untimely death. They used Barry Winchell’s case as a catalyst to lift the dangerous Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. According to those involved, President Bill Clinton’s DADT policy was the biggest mistake ever for the military because it taught people to lie. At the peak of DADT, there were 3-4 soldiers discharged per day for their sexual orientation. DADT was a failure of the Clinton administration.
All those involved felt like the military investigation was a joke. -Vanity Fair Confidential
In an interesting twist, the Commander who was in charge at the time of the death of Barry Winchell sparked protest in Washington DC in 2000 when he was reassigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. In response, Eric Shinseki, the Army’s Chief of Staff, stated that General Clark’s command at Fort Campbell had been “distinguished by great competence and compassionate leadership. The Army has placed its trust and confidence in Major General Clark and I am confident he will continue to excel in service to our nation.” The military concluded in a public statement that this was the first gay bashing murder in over ten years and that soldier on soldier violence was rare. In October 1999, President Clinton signed an executive order increasing penalties for hate crimes in the military justice code and allowed a sentencing authority to hear evidence that a violent crime was based on race, color or sexual orientation. However, the order only applied to crimes committed after Nov. 30, 1999.
Barry Winchell’s parents lobbied with the SLDN to help change the DADT policy after losing their son. Even though their son was not gay, he was accused of being gay which eventually led to his death. Roughly ten years later in 2010, President Barack Obama signed a historic bill ending the DADT policy, a policy that compelled gay and lesbian service members to hide their sexual orientation. The ending of the policy made it official for gays and lesbians to serve openly in the Armed Forces. President Obama said he “hopes all those who left the service because of the policy will seek to re-enlist. And he encouraged all gays to consider service.” Although, gays and lesbians were cautioned to keep their identity to themselves until the law was official in 2011. This comes as one of the first major actions by Secretary Defense Leon Panetta, who had been on the job for three weeks. SecDef Panetta also lifted the ban on women in combat in 2013. Our military is now officially equal in all respects.
A Fort Campbell private in the US army is bludgeoned to death by fellow soldiers. -A Soldier’s Secret, American Justice
It was a crime that rocked the army, and when questions about a soldier’s sexuality revealed a cover-up, Vanity Fair uncovered the chilling truth. -Vanity Fair
ID Go: An all-American soldier is found bludgeoned to death. The Army calls it a fight that went too far. But investigators discover a shocking story that starts with a nightclub showgirl and ends with two men behind bars. -Don’t Ask Don’t Kill, Vanity Fair Confidential (S1, E7)