Posts tagged: U.S. Military

Confronting Male-On-Male Rape In The Military

By , April 19, 2011 12:42 am

Newsweek’s Jesse Ellison wrote in the Daily Beast about men being raped by other men in the U.S. military.

The numbers are staggering. Ellison writes: “Last year nearly 50,000 male veterans screened positive for “military sexual trauma” at the Department of Veterans Affairs, up from just over 30,000 in 2003.”

Bastogne Soldiers get hero's welcome

But in addition to stories of male victims and the military’s attempts to address the problem, the Ellison’s piece also addresses the idea of how the military at-large and individual soldiers view themselves.

We don’t like to think that our men can be victims,” says Kathleen Chard, chief of the posttraumatic-stress unit at the Cincinnati [Department of Veterans Affairs]. “We don’t want to think that it could happen to us. If a man standing in front of me who is my size, my skill level, who has been raped—what does that mean about me? I can be raped, too.

Ellison also quotes Aaron Belkin from the Palm Center, a research group that studies gays in the military:

The military doesn’t want to talk about it because, as embarrassing as male-female rape is, [from their perspective] this is even worse. The very fact that there’s male-on-male rape in the military means that there are warriors who aren’t strong enough to fight back.

We like to think of the women and (especially) men who serve in the military as heroes, not “victims” as Chard said. By fighting our wars and protecting our freedom, members of the military are the embodiment of American strength and power. When these male soldiers become victims of rape, there isn’t a way to comprehend male victimhood and the violation of American strength and masculinity.

Ellison writes:

For most of military history, there was neither a system nor language in place to deal with incidents of soldier-on-soldier sexual assault. It wasn’t until 1992 that the Defense Department even acknowledged such incidents as an offense, and initially only female victims were recognized. But last year more than 110 men made confidential reports of sexual assault by other men, nearly three times as many as in 2007. The real number of victims is surely much higher.

Read the entire piece at The Daily Beast.

Photo credit: The U.S. Army / Flickr

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When Free Speech Is Offensive

By , March 3, 2011 12:39 am

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the First Amendment protects offensive speech.

In an 8-to-1 ruling, the court said the hate-mongers from the Westboro Baptist Church have the right to spew offensive speech under the First Amendment.

Members of the church, led by Rev. Fred W. Phelps, have been picketing near funerals of U.S. troops. They say military deaths are caused by America’s acceptance of homosexuality. The case that was before the Supreme Court stemmed from the 2006 funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church carried signs at his funeral that said, “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “God Hates Fags,” and “America Is Doomed.”

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What these this group is doing is horrible. As you saw from the NBC Nightly News story, they seem filled with rage. Margie Phelps, attorney and daughter for Rev. Phelps who was in the report, also thanked Snyder’s father for filing the suit and “putting a megaphone to the mouth of this little church.” She said, “We’re going to picket more.”

But I agree with the Supreme Court decision and Chief Justice John Roberts. The picketing, he wrote, “is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible.” But he also wrote the government “cannot react to the pain by punishing the speaker.”

“As a nation we have chosen a different course – to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate,” Roberts said.

Indeed. In some countries – even democracies in Western Europe – someone can be tried or sued for making hate speech, saying something offensive or even calling someone a derogatory name in a publication. People should act in a civilized manner, but the free exchange of ideas is important. Even if it means some ideas are bad, offensive or hurt someone’s feelings.

What do you think?

Continue reading 'When Free Speech Is Offensive'»

Where The Bigotry Lies In ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

By , June 7, 2010 2:59 pm

It’s a shame we’re still having a debate over gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

This New York Times article delved into some of the issues involved in transitioning the military to allow homosexuals to openly serve. One issue is whether openly gay soldiers should be put in separate housing. Another is that families might request different housing, on religious grounds, if same-sex couples live close by. Others are concerned that service members who don’t adhere to anti-discrimination policies may not be promoted. An unnamed Army National Guard member who is a lesbian had concerns, too. She said, “Getting rid of ["Don't Ask, Don't Tell"] completely without modifying it is kind of worrisome. The number of incidents against gays in the military is going to increase.”

WASHINGTON - MARCH 3: (L to R) Former service members Anthony Woods, of Viginia, Stacy Vasquez, of Texas, and Todd Belok, of Connecticut, listen during a news conference on Capitol Hill March 3, 2010 in Washington, DC. Senator Lieberman has introduced legislation to repeal the US military's don't ask don't tell policy for gays and lesbians serving in the military. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

True. This soldier is rightfully concerned about the safety of herself and other troops. If the policy is going to be repealed soon, and that is far from certain, it doesn’t look like it will happen before a report on the repeal is due on December 1. All of this fear and worry, though, is over soldiers who may be homophobic. This hand-wringing is over the feelings of people who may be bigots and what they might do. But the bigotry I see is with the leaders, policymakers and pundits who want DADT to remain in place.

On the issue of gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, we’re not the norm in the West. Every other country in NATO, except Turkey, allows gays and lesbians to openly serve. When Britain and Canada allowed homosexuals to serve openly they only lost three soldiers each (yes, just 3). And when U.S. looked into how Canada changed their policy, a report showed that “negative consequences predicted in the areas of recruitment, employment, attrition, retention, and cohesion and morale have not occurred.”
Continue reading 'Where The Bigotry Lies In ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’'»

U.S. Troops Can’t Make Babies In Iraq

By , December 21, 2009 11:21 pm

What’s birth control for U.S. troops serving in northern Iraq? Threat of a court-martial.

Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo who commands 22,000 personnel there issued a directive which states getting pregnant or impregnating another soldier would lead to a court-martial. The military is stretched thin and general said he needs all of his troops.

The general said: “Anyone who leaves this fight earlier than the expected 12-month deployment creates a burden on their teammates.” Women who are victims of sexual assault would not be prosecuted.

Here’s the piece from CNN:

At first I thought the general was crazy. The phrase “reproductive rights” came to mind. Military law is different than civilian law, though. The military controls most aspects of a soldier’s life: when they eat, sleep, fight. They are literally ordered around. They signed up for that mission. So, getting pregnant or getting another soldier pregnant and making a soldier unable to fight because two people wanted to fool around is irresponsible.

What do you think? Was the general correct in making this rule? Or did he go over the line?

Update: The U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Raymond Odierno, released a new policy for soldiers in Iraq that will take effect on January 1. There is no pregancy provision in it. This comes a few days after Gen. Cucolo clarified himself and said he wouldn’t seek jail time for any pregnant soldier or the pregnant soldier’s sexual partner.

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