Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Easy To Be Hard

How can people be so heartless 
How can people be so cruel
Easy to be hard, easy to be cold
How can people have no feelings
How can they ignore their friends
Easy to be proud, easy to say no

Easy To Be Proud

Hagel (L) Dempsey (R) Make a PSA
Regarding Sexual Assault 
awareness In April
I would grant you that the military is not for everyone, to quote Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) "Our men and women didn't sign up to get raped." And yet it happens even in the face of new legislation and the promise by our Military to change. And yet the change that we were promised seems to be a public relations campaign to give the Military a gold star for effort. Feeling the pressure from some in Congress, and with the media spotlight set on Hi-beam, the Pentagon and Chain of Command is attempting to show us that they care. During this Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we have seen the emotionless faces of the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and the Chairman of The Joint Chief's of Staff, Martin Dempsey in Public Service Announcements speaking (we can only assume) to the general public about preventing Sexual Assault."They speak to us about what we can do to prevent sexual abuse. These PSA's are professionally done, but lack depth and a sense of truth."

NCIS Reenacts a military sexual assault case 
The real public service came in April when CBS aired a powerful episode of NCIS depicting the sexual assault of one female midshipman. I enjoyed the episode on several levels. First, because the pattern of this epidemic has caught the public eye, and will continue to stay before their consciousness; second, this particular episode depicted the way our military justice system should work for the victims, and not for those in charge. Sadly this is just another TV show bringing justice to an imaginary Army, Air Force, Navy, or Marine Corps in 43 minutes plus commercials. Sad is because Hollywood seems to be ahead of the problem, addressing the issue in a drama that really has no obligation to make this an issue.  We see a thorough investigation of
NCIS Confronting a Rapist. Something
w'd all like to see.
everyone involved. We uncovered the people who tolerate this type of behavior, and the ones who see this victim as their friend. I won't give away too much for those "spoiler alert" sensitive types but I can say say it was worth my time. (Thank you PTSD Queen for alerting me.) I don't usually endorse TV shows, mainly because they exploit issues, but this one is a 10, and should get an Emmy. This was really art imitating life.

Evil And Social Injustice

Very First Superman Comic includes justice for a battered victim
Even Comics have spoken out on the subjects of domestic violence and sexual assault. Action Comics number 1 from 1939 shows Superman dispatching a husband beating his wife.
Amazingly it was a time in our country where wishful thinking of an imaginary Superhero would step in to protect the weak and powerless. Nothing to debate or argue about; no such words as legitimate rape, or non-consensual sex would be considered. Justice in the pulps were handed out firmly, swiftly, and without plea bargaining. Artists and independent movie producers would continue to share this message. After The Invisible War came out, Doonesbury creator/artist Gary Trudeau gave his thoughts and artistry to this subject.

Gary Trudeau artist of truth in satire
"In my research of PTSD, I came across Military Sexual Trauma--- MST. And in particular I encountered something--- the chilling descriptor Command Rape and I began to to try to understand what that was. And command rape is actually not violent rape. It's coercive rape---its a subordinate submitting to a superior out of fear and retribution.  

Doonesbury's Melissa Wheeler MST Victim
So I created this character Melissa Wheeler who starts out--we know from her back-story is a strong capable soldier she's a mechanic in aviation--- when she finds herself in a command rape relationship--- is traumatized by it and leaves military---and I think we, as a nation, have a very strong responsibility to reach out to men and women who have gone through this hell, and try to bring them back home.

So Heartless, So Cruel

This is a good time to transition into the topic of command rape. It happens to some men and
women all throughout the military. And it is important to talk about in lieu of the Jeffrey Sinclair case. The Brig. General dodged the bullet of doing prison time when a female Captain under his command testified that Sinclair harassed, threaten, and sexually assaulted her. After coming forward with allegations of sexual conduct, many in the public seemed baffled that Sinclair's accuser would make those charges, because they were seen in each others company. Command rape is hard to prosecute according to current judicial standards of out-cry and resistance. Most defense lawyers will argue that real rape involves resistance and out-cry on the part of the alleged victim. Then of course she will be painted as someone who was attracted to his power or position, and she was trying to get Sinclair to leave his wife. Does that sound like an overused movie plot? Actually it's a misogynistic ploy to discredit mostly women who could destroy a man's career.

Command Rape or Coerced Rape puts a person in the position of either submitting or losing a career, status, or reputation. Many female recruits can be prey to these monsters who wield a great deal of power, or who are in the chair of command. Command rapists usually start out as your supervisor, or commander, who do little favors for you, or allow you to have privileges that your peers don't.
A Very Perky and Positive  Virginia Messick
before her rape 
"When I first got to Basic Training, ---about second week. that's when he started letting me use the email, and Facebook, to talk to a friend in Afghanistan which was clearly prohibited but he was telling me that everyone needs a friend while they were on a deployment--- so I thought it was in a professional manner." 
When you're a scared private in bootcamp any kindness someone shows is really appreciated. This of course can be a set-up for an unassuming recruit who is told she must follow every order. Command Rape happens because a man or woman believes that they have no choice but to comply or suffer the consequences.

"He told us he was God--- that the Air Force wasn't going to believe anything we said over him--- That he controlled us--- that we were basically worthless. ---He told me that I was going to do what he wanted me to do or else."
Reporting a your assault to your rapist who could be
in your chain of command? Doonesbury Comics 2013
After the assault, the dilemma Virginia faced was, she couldn't report the assault to her chain of command, because it would start with her rapist. (Does that makes sense to you now Congress?) How do you deal with something as offensive as rape when you have to report to your rapist?

Virginia and others like her have been encircled from all sides by the military, by politicians, and people of indifference or cynicism, keeping justice outside and the victim in total isolation. Some claim they need to study the problem, or that the person is a liar, or has health issues, or they say, "We're taking care of the problem, and will not tolerate this sort of behavior." And yet they do.
Because they refuse to make any real changes that will clean up this sort of behavior. Their talk is about as effective as spitting on a bond fire.

The In Crowd

And now we have a new report that shows sexual assaults have gone up 50% from the previous year. In Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's mind that is a good thing.

Latest report from the Pentagon: Sexual assaults are up by 50%
White House and Defense Department officials characterized the much-anticipated study as a welcome sign that victims are more comfortable reporting assaults and that victims perceive the Pentagon to be taking the problem seriously. But critics of the study said there was no way to know if the increase in reporting meant that there were more sexual assaults over all last year. Unlike in previous years, the study did not estimate how many sexual assaults took place over all last year. In 2012, a confidential Pentagon survey estimated that 26,000 men and women were sexually assaulted. Of those, 3,374 cases were reported.- NY Times May 1, 2014
Isn't it amazing that these political and Military types, who keep our victims and advocates at arms length, and yet know just what these numbers mean? How do you know the heart and mind of the person who servers, when you don't listen? And even if these numbers did reflect a soldiers confidence in reporting, why is that cause for them to pat each other on the back, and give high five? And why
should such a report make you happy? Are you saying it's all about the Military Commanders, and not the victims?  In truth this increase no matter how you see it, should unnerve us. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) finds the numbers to be alarming.

Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) unnerved by the new numbers
"Nonetheless, Ms. Gillibrand said the study was a troubling look at sexual assault in the military: The Pentagon said that of the 5,061 reported cases, 484 went to trial, and 376 resulted in convictions. The numbers, she said, “should send chills down people’s spines,” because less than one of 10 reported cases proceeded to trial."NY Times May 1, 2014
Congress appears to want to fix the problem, but keep the status quo. They want to pacify all sides without making real changes. (If my atheist friends will allow me to indulge a thought:) There is a Biblical Proverb. "No one can serve two masters, he will hate one and love the other." Basically, you can't serve two people, or believe in two ideas, that oppose each other. Politicians want to come down soft on rape in the military, because radical reform has been called for.  But at this point to allow the chain of command to still control the issue of rape in the military shows a complete disregard for real justice for victims.
"In the end, the case against reform boils down to an insistence that “we”—the military—“know best.” This reflects an assumption that Congress should defer to the military, rather than the other way around. The noisier and more gossamer the military’s objections, however, the more obvious it is that the current battle is over more than simply whether commanders ought to keep their 18th-century power to decide who should be prosecuted by court-martial for what everyone agrees are serious criminal offenses." The Slate Dec. 6, 2013 Good Bye to George III

The Problem continues because our ideas and even our laws have not been aimed at making leadership changes, but in adjusting the laws to give us a feeling of security that our leadership can be trusted.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  You can't change the system without changing the leadership.  It is easy to be hard and say no when you won't look out for even those who can't look out for themselves.

Sources : Slate.com
 NY Times  
Doonesbury Comics

Dedicated To My PTSD And MST Friends and Family
Barbara Jackson
Brian Lewis
Elizabeth Grous
Ginny Leern
Heath Phillips
Jennifer Norris
Kate Weber
Michael Matthews
Noelle Silverman
Rosie Palfy
Vanessa Grimes
Victoria Sanders
Unite Women of America
And Others 

Coming next:  Memorial May And Lest We forget. 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Thank you, Kevin. As a veteran of the long since dissolved-into-Regular-Army WACs, I applaud your efforts to bring attention to this shameful situation.

    1. You are welcomed. And thank you for your service.

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