May 8, 2013 at 12:38 am #87533
The end of the show discussion was a little soul-destroying.
My sister was a victim of repeated sexual assault over her 11 year career while she served as a medic in the Army. Her attackers during her three separate incidents were marginally punished. She had turned down participating in a now famous class action suit. That was the 90′s.
My experience I was falsely accused of sexual harassment. A female corporal was cat-called/whistled,1940′s style by a soldier from a window in the next room. Everybody else rushed away from the window. I didn’t move fast enough and had the misfortune of looking like Steve Urkel with distinct thick lensed birth-control goggles. The male Drill Instructor called us downstairs and she began a very teary rant. None of my fellow soldiers defended me. I wasn’t punished but she out ranked me and made my life hell. Later, I did found out who did the whistling and beat him till he stopped moving.
The Army is all about mitigating risk. The rape prevention brochure is typical. I think that most civilians also miss the point about military life. Most of us are considered dumb asses especially if you are lower in rank. We have to be told that a woman cannot give lawful consent to have sex after a tequila shot. We have to be told that members of the opposite sex cannot “just talk” in closed offices. Male and female instructors have to be told not have sex with their students. Males soldiers have to be told to look at ID cards to check age. My point is that everything has to be spelled out. While most of us given this dumbed down advice, We don’t victim blame or shame our soldiers who are victims.
The Army has a zero tolerance policy in place. I have seen some people get serious jail time even for “minor offences”. On the flipside it has made the reporting of rape, investigation and prosecution more difficult. The victims wind up identifying with the accused even more. She is also afraid of being the one who got Sgt. So-and-So demoted. This a bigger problem than a brochure.May 11, 2013 at 5:48 pm #87883
QuantumMedic makes a great point about the wild backlash effect of the military. Early in my career (1995?), several videos came out about hazing. It was brutal gold wing ceremonies on CNN, 8th&I Marine Corps band members throwing old urine on new members, etc., etc. We then went from an environment of rampant, humiliating, often violent hazing rituals to a zero tolerance policy overnight. The organization still had the mentality of the old days in the officer corps, so administrative discipline was still based on the idea that the enlisted supervisors could handle disciplinary problems without ruining a marine’s record with the formal process. On the other hand, the backlash was so severe that even reasonable remedial action was removed from the NCO (Sergeant, Corporal, etc.) toolkit. The result was that NCOs had almost zero tools to keep their troops on task while they still had all of the pressure of getting the job done with dwindling numbers of troops.
A big problem is the officers come and go so quickly, and have a gazillion boxes to check in order to get promoted fast enough to stay in, much less make general. That means they are constantly trying to vary their assignments to check off the boxes faster than their peers, so their assignments tend to be short. The result is that serious issues are met with solutions that aren’t well thought out, because the officers have little time to deal with it. They just say that if this crime happens, throw the book at anyone in the vicinity, and wash their hands of it. There is not much effort in the way of changing the culture that breeds the crime, just a decree that it is not tolerated. Don’t even think about it. Carpet bomb the area if we even think it might be present.
As QuantumMedic stated above, it is hard to ask leadership to have a long talk with someone if you think they are just a little bit out of line. You don’t want to end that person’s entire career, you just want somebody to sit him down and try to set him strait before taking it to that next level. The other problem is that the net is cast so broadly that men feel they cannot trust women, who they believe can ruin their life with a simple accusation.
Contributing to the problem is the fact that for a long time, any administrative discipline entry in your service record could ruin your career. Rather than keeping an accurate record of those who continue to have problems with the rules, or those who have occasional problems and manage to self-correct, we make it a “nuclear option” to put even minor entries in a service record. This is problematic if we want to have honest assessments of our service members. This leads to cases where a number of leaders choose to use informal means to council someone who acts out, and can lead to that person slipping through the cracks long enough to get really froggy and commit a serious crime with no warning to his current unit.
This will take much more than a brochure to fix.May 12, 2013 at 4:54 am #87895
Thank you for your response. I had a very time parsing my words and feelings. It’s very hard to discuss the issue with civilians. Civilians seem to project their racism or sexism onto the military. The idea is to paint us as uncouth women assaulting, baby-killing, drone piloting, Abu Ghraibing idiots.
You do bring a good point about officers. Only a few truly care about leading.
Something to consider: I have served in the US Army right after the Gulf War I and more recently during the War on Terror. 16 year break in service. Newer soldiers get awards and promotions at the drop a brochure. I think that can create an entitlement culture. Some multiply deployed soldiers will commit sexual assault, “knowing” that the chest candy will protect them in a court martial.May 12, 2013 at 4:59 am #87896
I would like to coin a term described in my last post. The Steubinville Effect or the Al B. Sure Effect.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.