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The military’s recently released sexual assault report showed that an estimated 14,900 service members were sexually assaulted in 2016, a rate of more than 40 every day.
The military conducts regular surveys on sexual assault in the armed forces, and this latest report bears some encouraging signs.
In 2016, the total number of sexual assaults in the military declined by more than 5,000, reaching a 10-year low. Pentagon officials said that the decrease is not attributable to a specific variable, but rather are the result of, “noted enhanced efforts at communication, prevention and an institutionalization of policies aimed at countering assault,” the CNN report said.
Additionally, while the number of assaults went down, the number of official reports of sexual assaults increased slightly, suggesting victims are more comfortable speaking out and getting help after they are assaulted. There were 6,172 cases of sexual assault reported in 2016, compared to 6,082 sexual assaults reported in 2015, a modest increase of 1.5%. That means, however, that more than half of sexual assaults still go unreported. Still, the number of reports has come a long way. According to NBC News, just five years ago in 2012, there were as few as 3,604 sexual assaults reported.
And when reports went up in 2016, so too did disciplinary action against the assailants. In 64% of reported sexually assault cases, commanders had “sufficient evidence” to take action, the CNN report said. Nearly 60% of those cases resulted in court-martials.
Ultimately, 4.3% of women and 0.6% of men in the armed forces reported “experiencing some form of sexual assault in the year prior to being surveyed.”
But there’s a lot to be angry about, as well.
For the first time, the survey contained data on LGBT service members and their experiences with sexual assault in the armed forces. The numbers did not contain good news. It found that men in the LGBT community who are in the military were over 10 times more likely to be victims of sexual assault — 3.5% to 0.3%. Similarly, women in the LGBT community were more than twice as likely to be victims of sexual assault — 6.3% to 3.5%.
Nearly 60% of service members who reported their sexual assaults then faced some sort of reprisal. One third of women and 40% of men said they regretted reporting their assault.
Reflective of the Marine Corps’ revenge porn and nude-photo-sharing scandal uncovered by former Marine infantryman-turned investigative journalist Tom Brennan at the War Horse, 2.3% of women in the Marines said a fellow Marine took or shared a sexual photo of them without their consent. Those numbers were notably higher than the Navy’s 1.6%, the Army’s 1.5%, or the Air Force’s 0.5%.
In all, it’s difficult to imagine, difficult to stomach the thought of 40 service members being sexually assaulted every day, often by fellow members of the military, people who are supposed to be brothers and sisters. And yet, among the rank and file, there doesn’t seem to be much grassroots interest in the issue. It’s largely ignored.
That’s something that just has never sat well with me, especially considering the size and scope of the problem. In contrast, there is a large amount of understandable and justifiable passion within the military and veterans community surrounding the high rate of suicide in the veterans community. Among the more than 21 million veterans in the United States, 20 veterans commit suicide every day, a recently revised number from 22 a day that was the subject of ruck marches and nonprofit organizations. As it should be. But one bit of cognitive dissonance I’ve never understood relates to the rate of sexual assault in the military. Where is the grassroots interest? More than 40 service members are sexually assaulted in the military every day, among a population much smaller than the total veterans community — there are roughly 1.4 million service members on active duty — about 500,000 soldiers, a little over 300,000 sailors, roughly 330,000 airmen, and over 180,000 Marines.
But the grassroots interest could be changing. In the Marine Corps in particular, from the command level, there’s more interest in preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault than ever before. Brennan’s story prompted the creation of a task force headed by the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Glenn M. Walterso.
That command-driven effort, paired with the positive numbers in this latest report, leave room for optimism. But like suicide, the target number for sexual assaults is zero, and sitting at 14,900, that seems quite far away, indeed.
The Navy is investigating dozens of videos of service members changing in a bathroom which were then shared on the website PornHub, according to a NBC News report.
According to the report, an agent from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service found the videos on PornHub earlier this month. The videos, which have since been taken down, show civilians, sailors and Marines, some of whom have visible name tapes.
Two Army Ranger medics saved lives by taking fresh blood from uninjured soldiers in the middle of a firefight
We already knew that Army Rangers were a unique breed of badass, but performing real-time blood transfusions while under enemy fire on the battlefield takes it to an entirely new level.
Netflix's upcoming workplace comedy 'Space Force' is already trolling the actual Space Force on Twitter
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
A recent report from the Vietnam Veterans of America says that American vets are targeted by Russians and other adversarial governments online. Specifically, there are many Facebook pages and other social media catering to vets that are really operated by foreign entities.
Some may ask, so what? If the pages are fun, why does it matter who runs them? The intelligence officer in Moscow isn't running a Facebook page for American veterans because he has an intense interest in motivational t-shirts and YouTube rants in pickup trucks.
He's doing it to undermine the political and social fabric of the United States.
An Alaska-based airman died on Thursday after local police shot him for brandishing a shotgun in front of them. The airman, 26-year-old Tech Sgt. Gage Southard, was assigned to 673rd Communications Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, base officials said in a statement sent to Task & Purpose.
"The loss of Tech. Sgt. Southard is devastating," said Col. Patricia Csànk, Joint Base Commander. "My deepest condolences and prayers are with Tech. Sgt. Southard's wife and family, and his fellow Airmen. This is a tragedy for our entire team."