After the latest scandal involving sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military, the Air Force's answer may very well be segregated basic training. In today's Chicago Tribune News:
The U.S. Air Force is considering whether to revamp basic training for recruits, including separate training for women and men, following the worst U.S. military sex scandal in 16 years involving a dozen male drill sergeants accused of abusing women.I would like to believe that the leadership would know better than to take backwards steps towards solving this problem. The Marine Corps already has segregated training and they have no fewer problems with sexual assault or sexual harassment than any other of the Armed Forces. In fact, I learned in the film, The Invisible War, that the Marine Corps had its own scandal fairly recently at the prestigious Marine Corps Barracks in Washington DC. Yes, the President's Marines. Go figure.
If the Air Force was only having problems with sexual assault and sexual harassment at Basic Training, maybe segregation would be the answer. But the current investigation has expanded to include three technical schools. We can't segregate men and women for their entire careers. And why should we? It isn't that men can't control themselves when there are women around, though there are those who would like us to think that is the case. The simple truth is that there are a few men who are sexual predators. They will tap their victims in whatever setting they can manage.
Current sexual harassment prevention training focuses on teaching women to avoid situations where rape might occur - segregation is only taking this lesson to its extreme. Let's start focusing the solution where it belongs - on the predators. Let's start making our military a place where predators cannot and will not succeed. This starts by taking all victims seriously from the time they report. No more making assumptions that women are making false accusations just to get back at someone. If that is the true case, it will come out in an investigation. So investigate already.
Segregating troops also doesn't take into account that sexual assault happens to men as well as to women. Because women are a smaller percentage of the overall military population, the numbers are actually even. A predator can and will look for victims of either sex - ask anyone who has been in the military and they can share stories that you don't want to hear. Actually, read the comments in any of the diaries I have written on this topic and you will see yet another veteran coming forth with more information that makes you want to cry.
What is the solution, you ask? It's two-fold. First, the military needs to start seriously prosecuting sexual assault. The current investigation taking place at Lackland and the three tech schools is a good start. They also need to start seriously considering accusations of sexual harassment. A good commander can and should do this without being told to but too many don't want to disturb the status-quo in their units. They have one person come forth and they poo-poo the idea that she or he was really sexually assaulted and that prevents anyone else from coming forward.
Second, I highly recommend that training for our commanders include viewing the award-winning film, The Invisible War. I took my husband and two other Air Force officers to the see the film and all three agreed that it changed their perception of the current available training. They realize that the military focuses on blaming the victim and on teaching the victim how to avoid situations where 'date-rape' might occur. They realized that the real issue isn't 'date-rape,' it's downright assault and that the focus needs to become the sexual predator in the first place.
You might be wondering what you and I can do to change the status quo. Well, I have an answer to that as well. Shit rolls down hill in military circles and the best way to make change happen is to have the Commander in Chief say so. Please sign this petition to the Obama Administration asking that all potential commanders and all trainers of incoming recruits watch The Invisible War. That single change will have an echo effect throughout the military, not just the Air Force. The stories shared in this film are not only eye-opening, they have the ability to change perceptions, to change future actions, to make our military more accountable to themselves and the very people that serve our Nation.
After you have signed the petition, I need you to help more. I need you to share the petition otherwise it won't gain enough traction to make a difference. Email, Facebook and Twitter can do wonders and it's the only way we can get 25,000 signatures by the end of the month. I have an invite to help published on Facebook, let me know if I can include you as well. For Twitter, please include @invisible_war and the hashtag #notinvisible when you Tweet.
If you would, you can also change your tagline to include a link to the petition. Here is mine:
Thanks in advance for all you are doing to help! I couldn't do it without you!