I have a neighbor whose daughter just left for the military a month ago. I was stunned when she told me the news. Later on after pondering the obvious, I said to her mom, "tell her that I said, don't take any crap from anyone." (My words were just a little stronger.) But I think about those women and men out there who may be in that war within the ranks.
Jennifer's StoryRetired NCO, TSgt Jennifer Norris experienced war within the ranks from recruitment to her first duty station. She came from an small town, and had an idyllic childhood. Joining the Air Force at 24, she had no idea that this behavior existed in the Armed Forces.
"I was chemically restrained and raped by my recruiter and sexually assaulted by my technical school instructor at Keesler Air Force Base. I did not report these incidents; I just sucked it up and kept my mouth shut." As Jennifer continues, she tells how she was sexually assaulted at her permanent duty station by 2 other servicemen. And one of them was her supervisor, who she could not escape from. Finally coming forward, and reporting these crimes to her commander. Unfortunately her commander did not have the authority to press charges against the recruiter and her Tech TI at Keesler. He did pursue charges against her supervisor and friend. Did Jennifer finally get justice?
|TSgt Jennifer Norris at permanent duty station|
"The day before the Administrative hearing the perpetrators plead guilty. The punishment imposed by the commander was that they were both permitted to resign honorably. And since my NCOIC had 18 years of service, he was allowed to stay in for 2 more years so he could reach his full twenty years. Both predators eventually received their fully military benefits."
This was a damn shame! A joke! Was this trial held at the officers club over several rounds of beers? A lot of laughs and swapping stories between the three of them? This brazen series of attacks upon this airman was rewarded with a full retirement and benefits? And is there any surprise that the collective cries like Jennifer's and others have reached the nations capitol?
Ret. TSgt Jennifer Norris Makes her statement at Lackland AFB Press Conference August 1, 2012
When Jennifer made her statement at that Lackland AFB press conference on August 1, 2012, the stats for rape had been reported at 19,000 servicemen and servicewomen being assaulted. Since then, in 2013, the number has jumped to a staggering 26,000 sexual assaults per year. Jennifer and many other veterans and rape crisis advocates are now joining Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) along with a bipartisan coalition of Congressional leaders to make a real change for the men and women serving in the Armed Forces.
The Military Justice Improvement Act
|Sen. Kirsten E Gillibrand (D-NY)|
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand presents the Military Justice Improvement Act Bill November 19, 2013
“America is home to the world’s best and brightest, brave men and women who join the armed services for all the right reasons – to serve our country, defend all that we hold sacred, and make America’s military the best the world has ever known, but too often, these brave men and women find themselves in the fight of their lives not off on some far-away battlefield, but right here on our own soil, within their own ranks and commanding officers, as victims of horrific acts of sexual violence"
This bill is scheduled to be up for a vote next week baring maneuvering from any opposition to the proposal. If you haven't contacted your congressman or congresswoman, then do so. Add your voice to this issue. Many of your state representatives can be contacted immediately through email or twitter. Also send a note to Senator Gillibrand thanking her for her efforts. Let her know you're out there, and you appreciate the efforts she and her coalition team are making to make this bill become law.
A special thanks to Retired TSgt Jennifer Norris and her contribution to this blog. Currently Jen is on the board of Protect Our Defenders. This is a place for survivors of rape, and their families who are still waiting for answers. She is also an advocate for the Military Rape Crisis Center. You may contact her on Twitter. @JNorrisUSAFret
My next report should come on Monday. So give a good thought, and send me your comments.
"There Is No Excuse For Abuse"