For Combat Veterans, Life During Ice Time (Jerry Barca, 7/17, New York Times): The Fort Bragg Patriots, an amateur hockey team, is made up of post-9/11 active-duty combat veterans. They use their time on the ice to relax and forget about their time at war, and they bond over their shared experiences overseas.
Marine officer: Scope of sex assault problem exaggerated (Jim Michaels, 7/15, USA Today): Marine Corps Capt. Lindsay Rodman, who now works as a lawyer at the Pentagon, said the military’s sexual assault issues have been exaggerated. She called the Pentagon’s 2012 Annual Report on Sexual Assault survey into question, saying exaggerating the numbers doesn’t help the military address the core problems.
No veterans need apply? (Lisa Nagorny and Dan Pick, 7/15, American Legion): The Center for a New American Security conducted a survey of employers, asking them why veterans are unemployed at higher rates than civilians.
This has been an eventful week for the Pentagon, with Senate hearings on increased sexual assaults in the military between 2010 and 2012, the House Armed Services Committee debate over the defense authorization bill, and authorizing spending for certain Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs activities.
New anti-party rules for soldiers at Defense Language Institute in Monterey (Amy Larson, 6/4, KSBW Action News8) Lt. Col. Frank Smith, commander of the U.S. Army’s 229th Military Intelligence Battalion at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., issued new restrictions on entry-level soldiers in an effort to “mitigate risks historically associated with sexual misconduct.”
At the beginning of May the Department of Defense released figures estimating 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact that occurred in 2012, a 35 percent jump from 2010. These cases range from inappropriate contact to rape.
But military sexual trauma is showing up in more than multi-page reports. It’s been the content of documentaries, books and even a TV show mini-series that exposes the humans behind the numbers appearing in the reports.
Men and women who experienced sexual trauma are stepping forward, sharing their stories and getting in front of the camera for the first time. These stories are not new, explain many of the victims, they just haven’t been brought to light in this fashion.
The documentaries “Uniform Betrayal,” “Service: When Women Come Marching Home” and “The Invisible War” were released in 2011 and 2012 and depict men and women who have experienced sexual assault. “The Invisible War” was a 2013 Oscar nominee for Best Documentary Feature and garnered a lot attention about military sexual trauma.
Last August, WIGS, a YouTube channel, created a TV show depicting a woman’s battle with military sexual assault. The show, “Lauren,” introduces characters to a fictional character that navigates through her rape in the military. It comes across as a dramatization of real stories and breathes life into the numbers in the headlines.
These forms of media attention are connecting faces to facts as an alternative to official reports. What will be the result of this story telling method? That’s yet to be determined.