KATIE ZERR:Changes in attitude and environment needed in military

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It seems that once one begins to get comfortable in the progress of human kind, some dirty little secrets come to light that throw us back into the dark ages.

Recent revelations about the attitude of the chain of command concerning women coming forward after being sexually assaulted, bullied and harassed in the military is a prime example of this.

The “boys will be boys” attitude that has surfaced in some of these claims, whether it applies to incidents of male soldiers and sailors against women or other males is outrageous.

This is a serious situation. It undermines the safety and well- being of our military and eyes need to be opened about the nature and extent of these a crimes.

Those who serve this country should not have to live in an environment where these criminal acts are tolerated and not reported by those who were attacked or those who may have been a witness. They need to know that seeking help does not make them less of a soldier.

It is time that the acts of rape and sexual assault are treated as exactly what they are, crimes against men and women.

The attitude that this is an established military environment that has been for existence for hundreds of years and those entering that environment need to adjust to those attitudes is ludicrous. Adjustments have been made in every other environment where changes have occurred. It is disturbing to see that the attitude still exists in the military.

The Pentagon estimated in a recent report that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year, up from an estimated 19,000 assaults in 2011, based on an anonymous survey of military personnel. The number of sexual assaults that members of the military actually reported rose 6 percent to 3,374 in 2012.

These are all members of the military, men and women. Every single act of this nature must be treated as a crime, not just assaults on female soldiers and sailors but every member of the military. Men should never fear retaliation if they report illegal actions of fellow males in the military. “Boys will be boys” is not acceptable in any case.

It is reported that thousands of victims were still unwilling to come forward despite new oversight and assistance of programs aimed at curbing the crimes.

The intelligence and innovation of the leadership of our military is considered superior to almost all others, so why  have they not been able to cleanse our military of this problem?

Female members of Congress are voicing their outrage about the criminal acts of males against females in the military and the manner in which these reports are being handled among the ranks.

It is time that all criminal acts of a sexual nature are punished in our military. It is time that all members of our armed services should feel safe within the company of their fellow soldiers and sailors and if something should happen, they should feel that their attackers would be punished according to law.

The message should be sent loud and clear that any act of this kind against any member of the military will not be tolerated nor go unpunished.

Turning a blind eye, slapping offenders on the wrist, or harassing those who report these crimes must not be accepted in any incident.

Senator John McCain, a military veteran, said at a recent hearing on the subject; “I cannot overstate my disgust and disappointment over continued reports of sexual misconduct in our military. We’ve been talking about this issue for years and talk is insufficient.”

All Americans should have the same disgust and disappointment in the manner in which these cases have been handled.

It is time our military leaders shut down this sexual assault epidemic and change their attitude.

 

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