Monday, May 26, 2008

National Shame on Memorial Day: "Military Sexual Trauma"

(click cartoon to enlarge)

NOW, the fantastic news magazine that airs on PBS each week, has a shocking story about the surge in rape against female soldiers in the U.S. military.

Here is their set-up (emphasis added):
There are more women serving in the military than ever before, and they're in danger—but not just from combat. Last year, nearly 1,400 women reported being assaulted and raped by their fellow soldiers, in some cases by their commanding officers. The shocking phenomenon is called military sexual trauma, or MST.

Since NOW first aired its investigation into rape and sexual assault in the military last year, the Pentagon has released new reports in which one-third of military women say they've been sexually harassed. And the number of women reporting assault and rape has essentially remained the same—even though the military says it has invested serious resources to combat the problem.

This week NOW on PBS talks to women soldiers who signed up to defend their countries but instead had to defend themselves from assault and rape by their own fellow soldiers. How are these women picking up the pieces of their life after military sexual trauma?

To stream the program from your computer, click here.

To watch the original program on military sexual trauma, click here.

In addition to the streaming video of the show, each of the above links has a variety of other resources and information listed on this disturbing subject.

I'll add my own question to the above: why is this story not front page of every major newspaper in the country? Why are none of the presidential candidates, including the self-described feminist champion, Hillary Clinton, and the war hero, John McCain, as well as the front-runner, Barack Obama, making it a public issue? Is this the result of the Pentagon's control of information and infiltration of the media? Is it because we don't take such statistics seriously in environments that have historically been deemed "male"?

Seriously, what the fu*k!?!?!?!!? It is shameful enough that our nation has been overrun by militarism and hyper-nationalism, but it is mind-blowing that these chicken-hawks in power have such disdain for actual soldiers. We have this piece of horror, we have recent reports that in recent years soldier suicides have far surpassed troop deaths in Iraq, we have the VA hospital scandal, we have the lack of basic body armor for soldiers and their vehicles, we have the President and McCain opposing a new GI Bill of Rights, and on and on and on...

... Given all this and more, why the heck would ANY veteran or current military person vote for the Republican Party? The reality is that the Repubs love to run the nation into bad wars, but they don't like to take care of the troops.

It is Memorial Day. While we salute the service and sacrifice of all soldiers today, shouldn't we also take a good hard look at how our government is running the military and ask how we might do better by these men and women?

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