Hello, Friends!

The new documentary – The Invisible War – is opening in theaters this weekend to a limited release.  A lot of the media talk has been, “how do we change this?”  Of course, those sorts of questions are to be expected.  The DoD, of course, is saying all sorts of things about their current programs.  You didn’t actually expect them to be honest…did you?  To that end – and since no one is going to actually listen to me anyway – I thought I would throw my suggestions out into cyberland.

I’m not going to go into the statistics…because most of us have seen all of them before.  Besides, statistics is a really good way to reduce humans to cold, meaningless numbers.  Sure, it impacts people for a moment..but when the moment is gone – the numbers aren’t people.  The numbers don’t live with this, they don’t sleep with this, they don’t struggle to survive this…the people do.

Problem 1:  In the current system, untrained, uneducated and incapable people are generally the people that act as judge, jury and executioner of all rape/harrassment accusations.  They are normally members of the same chain-of-command, bring their personal prejudices, and may be the friends of the perpetrator.  Please don’t get me wrong – I am not painting all military NCO’s and Officers with the same paint brush.  I happen to know an officer who truly put his career on the line (and his own promotion) to assist a female in his chain-of-command who was raped.  Still, this is the situation that we are currently facing.  Yes – I know that these Officers have college degrees – but are they licensed in crime scene investigation?  Are they licensed Mental Health professionals?  Not likely!  Even if they are – they are still too close to the situation to even begin to be impartial.

Solution 1:  This solution has 2 parts.  Part 1:  All accusations of Assault and Harrassment must go to a completely independent agency on post – like an SVU – that answers only to the department Chief-of-Staff.  This will ensure that independent investigators are actually independent.  Part 2:  Failure by a chain-of-command to follow the steps to protect the victims and refer the accused to the independent agency will cause them to be held directly responsible.  When CO’s and 1SG’s can no longer hide behind their buddies to cover up a crime…they are going to be more protective of their careers.  If they feel that proper procedure prevents their career from being destroyed…they will be more likely to protect the accuser than the accused.

Problem 2:  Retaliation!  This isn’t just about the victim being revictimized…this is about the entire platoon/company turning on an accuser in order to protect themselves.  This is about the fact that there is no secrecy about the investigative process.  Things that are supposed to be confidential…are not!  Again – some of this results from friends interviewing friends and superiors interviewing subordinates.

Example – when I was going through the process that ended my career – the investigation consisted of getting everyone together (in front of the accused) and asking them if I was telling the truth.  (Oh, yeah…people were going to talk…especially because I was already on my way out!)  Of course no one spoke up!!  The one person, who had managed a transfer out of the unit, that was willing to talk…Well – the investigative team wouldn’t talk to her…because she wasn’t in the unit.

One of the things that the military is now implementing is the right of the victim to receive immediate transfer.  I’m not sure how I feel about that?  Sure – it does away with the local retaliation – but I promise you…the unit she is moving to…knows what is going on before she/he even sets foot in the new Company AO.  So, why should the victim be punished?  After all – the victim is the person who has to pack up and move.  The victim is the one who has to loose their friends.  The victim is the one who has to start over and try to overcome the “label” she/he will arrive in the new Company with.  How is that right?

Solution 2:  First – remove the accused…not the victim!  Second – make the chain-of-command responsible for the victim’s safety.  Perhaps, a short period of leave so they can get out of the area until things settle a little bit.  Lots of support and treatment.  Part of the problem is that there is a culture that says – “The bitch was asking for it!”  It’s not easy to change the culture…but that is the role of Leadership – to set the tone.  IF the victim was transferred…then transfer him/her.  Give the victim the right to some sort of control.

Well – this is where I am going to stop for now.  I will write more in another post.  But, I would like to close this post with two words that really sum up all of the solutions…..ACCOUNTABILITY and RESPONSIBILITY.  The values we are supposed to learn when we enter the military aren’t just words…they should be our creed!  Not just when it is easy…but when it is hard!  It’s easy to be a leader and a soldier when you are making easy decisions…the true test of character and leadership is to make the Hard Right…over the Easy Wrong.

Taking the Hard Right over the Easy Wrong is the Military way…believe it or not…that was one of SGT Jerk’s favorite sayings – Ironic…isn’t it.  I just wish he knew how to live it.

Peace and Blessings,



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One Response to “Solutions”

  1. Myst Says:

    Great post Joan! I am very excited about this movie coming out as well. I hope that it will shine a bright light on all the cockroaches and let them run for the light, and out of the service. It’s time for the military culture to change for the new century! I agree with you about moving the accused and NOT the victim. Accountability and Responsibility are certainly important watch words to live by.

    Thanks bunches for adding my blog to your blogroll as well!!!


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