NBCUniversal and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Launch Website for Vets

NBCUniversal and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched “Next Steps for Vets” yesterday, a website hosted by NBCNews.com that aims to help veterans find employment and further education through various resources like a guide to starting small businesses, job fair maps, a resume tool, and more, according to NBCUniversal. Read more.

What We’re Reading: Week 5

By Rachel Leingang, News21

A Loan Program for Veterans Comes Wrapped in Red Tape (Elizabeth Harris, 6/10, New York Times): More than 200,000 veterans live in New York City, but only 266 Veterans Affairs home loans were made in the city last year. One couple searching for a home loan finds the VA loan options to be burdensome for New York City properties.

Deployment to war doesn’t figure in majority of military suicides (Alan Zarembo, 6/15, Los Angeles Times): Most military suicides are committed by soldiers who never deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, according to data from the Pentagon. The LA Times looked into some possible causes of the high suicide rate through the stories of five servicemembers.

What is the military-civilian divide to you? (Leo Shane III, 6/19, Stars and Stripes): Throughout our reporting, we’ve heard from veterans who cite a lack of understanding and cultural divide between military members and families and civilians. Stars and Stripes asked its readers what that divide means in their lives and what civilians should know about them and their service.

Elite Units in U.S. Military to Admit Women (Jennifer Steinhauer, 6/17, New York Times): The Pentagon announced Tuesday that women will be allowed to train as Navy SEALs, Army Rangers and Marine infantry members, among others. The branches each can decide how to integrate women into their ranks, but must ask for exemptions when they decide women can’t do a particular position.

What We’re Reading: Week of June 3

By Chad Garland, News21

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.

What We’re Reading:

Lawmakers include sex assault reforms in 2014 funding bill (Leo Shane III, 6/5, Stars & Stripes) Sexual assault and sequester were among the Pentagon’s biggest headaches on the Hill this week. The House Armed Services Committee debate on the 2014 funding bill ties them together.

Five Ways Congress is Trying to Curb Rape in the Military (Christie Thompson, 6/5, ProPublica) Thompson provides a rundown of key congressional proposals to crackdown on sex crimes in the military.

With graduation, Iraq student veteran transitions to her new life (Kristen Moulton, 5/6, The Salt Lake Tribune) The latest in a series of articles following Jen Carver Comer, a student and Iraq war veteran, as she completes her undergraduate degree at Weber State University in northern Utah.

New anti-party rules for soldiers at Defense Language Institute in Monterey (Amy Larson, 6/4, KSBW Action News 8) 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.”

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2216) The bill, which passed the House Tuesday, authorizes appropriations for certain Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs spending.

“War Zone/Comfort Zone” follows female veterans

By Caitlin Cruz, News21

“Who else would preserve their land more than someone who is willing to die for it?”

Filmmaker Lizzie Warren with Connecticut Public Television follows two women who are attempting to begin a transitional housing shelter for female veterans, but it also tells the story of four women adjusting to life after the military.

For a more thorough description of the film:

Though women account for roughly 14 percent of active-duty U.S. military and more than 24 percent of the National Guard, they often receive less than a hero’s welcome upon return to civilian life. Many of these women veterans must deal with poverty, homelessness, joblessness, and psychological and physiological effects of PTSD from military sexual assault and/or combat all within a system that is ill-equipped and, in some cases, unwilling to help. War Zone/Comfort Zone is the personal story of their plight for normalcy and peace without the benefit of a comprehensive support system.

The documentary follows the journey of Shalini Madaras and Joy Kiss in the fight to open the first transitional house for women veterans in the state of Connecticut despite virulent neighborhood opposition. It also tells the story of four women who are coping with life after the military using interviews and footage that provide a surprising look into the lives of these invisible veterans.

The film was nominated for a New England Emmy for Outstanding Documentary.

Military Sexual Trauma in more than just the news

By Asha Anchan, News21

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.