One of the darkest kept secrets of the American military is how far ranging and common its abuse stories are. These abuse stories range from those detailing abuse of power, to extreme forms of hazing, to sexual assault. In many instances, these occurrences leave veterans with serious, lasting military trauma. While all are serious concerns, there is no problem nearly as serious or on such a widespread scale as military sexual trauma.
How Widespread is Military Sexual Trauma?
According to an article from The Huffington Post, dated December 27, 2013, sexual assault in the United States military grew by a staggering 50% last year, and that only accounts for reported cases of assault. In total, more than 26,000 men and women in uniform reported having received some form of unwanted physical contact while serving in the armed forces. Overall, the Marines, the smallest branch of the military, showed the largest increase in reported cases, marking a 86% jump year-over-year.
The Main Problems for Survivors of Abuse
- The Insular Nature of the Military Delays, Denies Justice
- Denial of VA Disability Benefits Following Abuse Stories
The military has long been plagued with nepotism and an environment that gives credibility to well-thought-of officers and other soldiers, especially if the accused are male. Consider the case of Lt. Col. James Wilkerson. According to The Washington Post, he was found guilty of sexual assault but had his conviction overturned by a Lt. Gen. Craig A. Franklin. Franklin didn’t overturn the verdict because of a lack of evidence or reasonable doubt. Instead, he did so because he felt the accused was too morally pure to have committed such an act. These sorts of abuse stories, those where officers are pardoned by commanding officers, are extremely common and speak to an old boys’ club that permits sexual assault.
Even if a victim of assault successfully brings justice to his or her attacker, chances are very good that the benefits assured to all military members under Social Security disability laws will be denied them. Consider, as the Daily Beast writes, 19,500 service members died in 2012 while waiting to receive the benefits to pay for treatments that could have saved their lives. Too many men and women have been assaulted, injured, and left to deal with the repercussions by themselves. Especially in the cases of sexual assault that leaves victims with PTSD, claims are all too frequently denied to our veterans.
There is no doubt that service in the military is a noble, honorable calling. Especially where honor is involved, you would think these abuse stories would be nonexistent. While we aren’t there yet, with brave men and women speaking out about their abuse stories and the assistance of veterans lawyers who want to help them, we are getting closer.
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