Heath Phillips, Active Duty Military & Veterans Advocate, a Voice for Male Victims of Crime

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Heath Phillips, US Navy

Heath Phillips is a US Navy veteran who served his country honorably up until he became a victim of sexual assault while on board the ship he was assigned to. As a result of the crimes, Heath chose not to go back to the ship in an effort to escape the hazing, retaliation, and further sexual and physical assault that awaited him. Instead he went Absent Without Leave (AWOL) and was eventually given an Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharge from the military. As a result of the discharge status, his life has been impacted greatly up to and including not having the ability to access veteran’s health care and compensation at the Department of Veterans Affairs for the injuries he sustained in the line of duty.

Since 2009, he has been an active voice for male victims of crimes in the military and has helped to educate the public about male military sexual assault issues. He has helped Representative Jackie Speier gain support for the Sexual Assault Training, Oversight, and Prevention Act (STOP Act). He has supported Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in efforts to pass the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA). He advocated on behalf of the Human Rights Watch organization for passage of the Fairness for Veterans Act. He continues to work closely with organizations and members of Congress to elevate support for male victims of crimes in the military and improve care for them in active duty and veteran status.

Update (June 2018): Heath Phillips appeared on the Today Show and informed the public that his military discharge status had been upgraded to HONORABLE

In the News:

Military Rape Speech 6 by Congresswoman Jackie Speier: I’ve discussed the military culture where victims are blamed and assailants are promoted. And I’ve shared the personal stories of several women in order to shine a light on this ongoing epidemic. But it is not only our female service members being raped. Men are being victimized too. (July 20, 2011)

Heath Phillips discusses surviving military sexual trauma & respect (July 1, 2018)

Anya Parampil breaks down a report written by the RAND Corporation that shows that there is still a sexual assault crisis in the US military. Anya reviews the findings of the study, which states that sexual assault is most rampant in the Navy. Anya speaks with US Navy Veteran, Heath Phillips, who shares his own experiences with sexual assault in the Navy and offers solutions to end the epidemic. -RT America (September 24, 2018)

Documentaries:

When his commanders would not stop sexual assaults by his shipmates, Heath went AWOL and then accepted a dishonorable discharge to end his torture. Now he is speaking out to change the way military rape is handled. This is his story.

Oral history interview with Heath Phillips by Jason A. Higgins on June 12, 2018. This interview is part of the Incarcerated Veterans Oral History Project, with the support of the UMass Oral History Lab. In the interview, U.S. Navy veteran Heath Phillips discusses his early life growing up with a Vietnam veteran father; his motivations for joining the military at seventeen; recounts 10 months of sexual violence aboard the U.S.S. Butte; the impact of Military Sexual Trauma, PTSD, and an other-than-honorable discharge on his post-military life; incarceration and twenty years of alcoholism; his path toward recovery; and his advocacy for other survivors of sexual trauma. -Incarcerated Veterans Project

Related Links:
Uniform Betrayal: Rape in the Military (Documentary)
Heath’s Story of Surviving Military Sexual Assault
Military Rape Speech 6 by Congresswoman Jackie Speier
Rape in the Military, The Rest of the Story…
Military sexual assault victims break the silence
Service members choose AWOL over rape
Breaking the Silence: Men who are sexually assaulted in the military often find it difficult to report the crime, that’s one reason they rarely get justice.
Gillibrand Opening Statement at Senate Subcommittee Hearing Examining Impact of Military Sexual Assault, Links to PTSD and Suicides
Son, Men Don’t Get Raped
Sexual assault survivor addresses Soldiers of Combat Aviation Brigade
Command Highlights (April 2016): A Look at What the Army Commands Are Doing In Their SHARP Programs (FORSCOM)
Booted: Lack of Recourse for Wrongfully Discharged US Military Rape Survivors
Military Sexual Assault Victims Discharged After Filing Complaints
Derogatory discharge papers blight lives of military who report sexual assault
New Report Says Pentagon Not Doing Enough For Sexual Assault Victims
Derogatory Discharge Papers Blight Lives Of Military Who Report Sexual Assault
Military must do right by wrongly-discharged sexual assault victims, advocates say
Coffman Introduces Fairness for Veterans Act (Ensures veterans with PTSD receive due consideration in post-discharge appeals process)
Why the Navy is making a major change in its approach to PTSD
‘It savaged my life’: military sexual assault survivors fighting to become visible
Raising Awareness And Support For Male Victims Of Sexual Assault In The Military
Rep Nikki Tsongas & Rep Mike Turner Host Educational Caucus: Improving Treatment Resources for Male Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma (2016)
Navy Finally Listens to Sexual Assault Victim
More Vets Who Are Coping With PTSD From Sexual Assaults Get Honorable Discharges
More Vets Who Are Coping With PTSD From Sexual Assaults Get Honorable Discharges
Navy reverses administrative discharge for service member sexually assaulted decades ago
After nearly 29 years, Navy reverses ‘other than honorable’ discharge for sailor sexually assaulted by 6 shipmates
‘A sense of validation’: After nearly 30 years, U.S. Navy admits it ignored sailor’s sexual assault
He went AWOL after being sexually assaulted. After 30 years, the Navy finally believed him.
RAPE and SEXUAL ASSAULT are Dirty Little Secrets for the Military, Especially the United States Navy
NAVY veteran Heath Phillips, who survived sexual assault, speaks out
Heath Phillips discusses surviving military sexual trauma & respect
Heath Phillips discusses Surviving Military Sexual Trauma & Respect 2
Heath Phillips shares with Mike Domitrz about Military Sexual Trauma & Being a Survivor
Episode 107 – Talk with Heath Phillips | Oscar Mike Radio On Mission – Always (08/16/18)
Heath Phillips speaking at Fort Drum on sexual assault
Heath Phillips speaking at Syracuse University about sexual assault in the military
Heath Phillips Oral History Interview by Jason A. Higgins, Incarcerated Veterans Project
Heath Phillips on Talking about Trauma, Incarcerated Veterans Project
Heath Phillips Rehappening of Trauma, Incarcerated Veterans Project
Heath Phillips on Rape Culture and Silence in the Military (PAMLA18)
Heath Phillips on Military Injustice, Incarcerated Veterans Project
Sexual Assault Crisis in Military Still a Reality – Report

The Army Stands Ready to Investigate Any Reports & Allegations of Sexual Assault Going Back to 2000 or Earlier

Claim: Sexual assault victims punished and lose health care benefits as a result.

HRW claims in their report that many service members lose their military career after being sexually assaulted & they have discharge papers that prevent them from getting health benefits.

DoD rejected the conclusions of the HRW report.

DoD states “they have many victims of sexual assault who receive honorable discharges from the military. There is a policy in place that offers assistance for anyone that reports a sexual assault. It is critical every survivor is treated with sensitivity that they deserve.”

Media states that victim was raped multiple times while serving her country and that they contacted the DoD and Army about her case, a case from 15 years ago.

She states that she was military intelligence, had lots of prescreening prior to enlistment. Promising path, requested by Chain of Command to apply to West Point. After first rape in military, her promising path turned to being retaliated against, and there were two more rapes for reporting the rape. It ended career with an illegal, bogus, discharge. Decade and a half later, still fighting to correct it.

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