Studies suggest as many as one in three female soldiers are raped during their US military service.
by Sarah Lazare
“My experience reporting military sexual assault was worse than the actual assault,” says Jessica (a pseudonym for her protection), a former marine officer and Iraq veteran who left the military because of her command’s poor handling of her assault charges. “The command has so much power over a victim of sexual assault. They are your judge, jury, executioner and mayor: they own the law. As I saw in my case, they are able to crush you for reporting an assault.”
Jessica is joining a civil lawsuit bringing claims against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, charging that under their watch the military failed to adequately and effectively investigate rapes and sexual assaults within the ranks.
The litigation, which was filed in Virginia district court in February of this year by the law office of Susan Burke, is set to go to trial in the coming months. The initial suit named 16 plaintiffs, all former or current military service members – but in recent months that number has swelled to more than 30, as more and more veterans come forward as survivors of sexual assault.
Washington, DC — All too often, when there is criticism of U.S. military actions it is the service members who receive the force of the backlash. They are called criminals, they are accused of being brainwashed, and it is they that are punished when something goes wrong. However, many sometimes feel that when they do speak out against U.S. military action, they do so without support and with the threat of being accused of being traitors hanging over their heads. Veterans, on the other hand, are better positioned to be the voice of military personnel.
By giving first hand accounts of atrocities they’ve witness and the perceived senselessness of those atrocities, they leverage the fact that they have followed orders and have fought to defend freedom of speech and the right to protest. Nevertheless, yesterday, activist where shocked and outraged to learn that not even veterans are safe from police aggression when employing their Constitutional rights, the very rights they had once laid their lives on the line to protect.
Approximately 50 members of Veterans For Peace (VFP) participated in a march this afternoon from Freedom Plaza to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. The museum was featuring an exhibit on unmanned drone bombers that a group of about 250 people from the October2011.org encampment at Freedom Plaza intended to protest.
‘We had marched from the Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square occupations, taking over the streets of DC. The museum knew we were coming. Some of our group got in and dropped a banner. Hundreds of us did not. Instead, we were greeted at the door with cans of pepper spray.’ We intended to hold signs and sing inside the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, protesting its promotion of unmanned drones, missiles, and bombs, including its sponsorship by and promotion of weapons corporations. We don’t have any museums promoting health coverage or education or retirement security.’ This was the statement given by David Swanson is the author of ‘War Is A Lie.’
VFP Acting Director Mike Ferner said, ‘I was at the first entranceway, holding the door open for people to enter. I saw a police or security officer in a white shirt hold his hands up, telling people to stop. The marchers continued and the officer began pepper-spraying everyone. From everything I saw until that moment, there was no reason for the pepper-spraying. The door of the museum clearly said ‘free admission.’ It did not say ‘Free admission if you are quiet’ or ‘Free admission unless you have opinions contrary to government policy.’
Not long ago, the city council of Ventura, California, passed an ordinance making it legal for the unemployed and homeless to sleep in their cars. At the height of the Great Recession of 2008, one third of the capital equipment of the American economy lay idle. Of the women and men idled along with that equipment, only 37% got a government unemployment check and that check, on average, represented only 35% of their weekly wages.
Meanwhile, there are now two million ”99ers” — those who have maxed out their supplemental unemployment benefits because they have been out of work for more than 99 weeks. Think of them as a full division in “the reserve army of labor.” That “army,” in turn, accounts for 17% of the American labor force, if one includes part-time workers who need and want full-time work and the millions of unemployed Americans who have grown so discouraged that they’ve given up looking for jobs and so aren’t counted in the official unemployment figures. As is its historic duty, that force of idle workers is once again driving down wages, lengthening working hours, eroding on-the-job conditions, and adding an element of raw fear to the lives of anyone still lucky enough to have a job.
John Fisher got his soul back when he visited a cemetery in Greece.
Shelley Corteville felt “rocketed” into healing when she told her story at a veterans’ retreat after 28 years of silence.
Bob Cagle lost his decades-long urge to commit suicide after an encounter at a Buddhist temple.
These veterans and thousands like them grapple with what some call “the war after the war” — the psychological scars of conflict. Working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and private organizations, these men and women are employing treatments both radically new and centuries old. At the center of their journey is a new way of thinking that redefines some traumas as moral injuries.
The killing of Osama Bin Laden did not put cuts in national security spending on the table, but the debt-ceiling debate finally did. And mild as those projected cuts might have been, last week newly minted Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was already digging in his heels and decrying the modest potential cost-cutting plans as a “doomsday mechanism” for the military. Pentagon allies on Capitol Hill were similarly raising the alarm as they moved forward with this year’s even larger military budget.
None of this should surprise you. As with all addictions, once you’re hooked on massive military spending, it’s hard to think realistically or ask the obvious questions. So, at a moment when discussion about cutting military spending is actually on the rise for the first time in years, let me offer some little known basics about the spending spree this country has been on since September 11, 2001, and raise just a few simple questions about what all that money has actually bought Americans.
Consider this my contribution to a future 12-step program for national security sobriety.
Last week, Andrea Chandler opened her mailbox in rural Virginia to find an official-looking envelope warning her that an immediate response was requested, with a Washington, DC return address and ominous logos to suggest it was a communication from a government agency. She knew what she’d find inside: a solicitation from a firm offering to refinance her home and lower her monthly payments.
Chandler is a US Navy veteran with almost 10 years of service, from June 1998 to January 2008, and she’s been getting these solicitations since she bought her home with the assistance of a Veterans Administration (VA) loan guarantee in 2008.
Podcast Powered By Podbean Download this episode (right click and save) Guest: Joshua Kors Joshua Kors, a multi-award winning investigative reporter for The Nation magazine, focusing on military and veterans issues. His reporting on scandals and medical fraud within the Veterans and military’s health policies brought him national attention – …
By Gary Null Ph.D. Introduction Whether you support or challenge the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War, most agree that we should support the brave men and women who have given their time and even their lives in service of their patriotic commitments. However, what we are seeing today …
By Gary Null Ph.D. Unproven Vaccines, Unmonitored Medicine (continued) There is debate raging in the United States between the conservatives and the liberals as to how we should extract ourselves from Iraq. While that debate is occurring and American casualties continue to mount, virtually no one is talking about the …
The official count of the American dead since the second Gulf War began is approximately 2,350. The number of injured and seriously injured is over 20,000. Many of these people have been injured permanently. The piece of the puzzle that’s missing, however, is that hundreds of thousands of vets from the first and second Gulf conflicts have come back home and are suffering from very unusual illnesses. These are illnesses that young healthy people simply never contract. When you look in their blood you’re able to find types of microorganisms that were clearly weaponized. Finding weaponized microorganisms in the blood of our soldiers is a first in American history. The combined bacteria and viruses together to create mycoplasma that debilitates the immune system. How did the soldiers become infected? Why has our government lost 70,000 of their records, specifically those who had this special type of microorganism put into their bodies? Who authorized the use of these weapons? Why has the mainstream media been virtually silent on this? How many have died as a result of infection? Estimates are that as many as 15,000 to 20,000 have died. What would the American public think if on top of the 2,350 current dead in Iraq that there were another 20,000 dead from the first Gulf conflict? What if there were another 100,000 to 150,000 so debilitated and with their lives so diminished that they would be looked upon as victims of this war as well? The new figures would change our perspective. Whether we agree or disagree with the current presence of American soldiers in Iraq, we all agree that anyone who goes over deserves the best attention they can get. No one should come back after serving in the Gulf suffering from illnesses that our government denies they contracted, whether they’re caused by depleted uranium, anthrax, or botulism vaccines. Our government is denying there is any such thing. As a result, these soldiers are going broke. They are dying in ways that you could not imagine.
By Gary Null Ph.D.
Are Gulf Vets Really Sicker? (continued)
Nearly 200,000 Gulf War veterans are suffering from Gulf War Syndrome. Some estimates are that 20,000 American service personnel have died due to the Gulf War Syndrome. What are we doing about this? How are we helping these vets? Please join me now as we continue our in-depth original investigative reporting series Gulf War Syndrome Killing Our Own.
We have discussed up to this point about why the Pentagon, the Defense Department, the State Department, the CIA, the White House, and the Veterans’ Affairs have refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the complaints of these hundreds of thousands of Gulf War vets, and the thousands who have died from their illnesses. These soldiers’ complaints have to be taken seriously. There has been no major effort by the government to understand what is going on. We understand. We believe these vets have real diseases and real physical ailments, and we believe they have real causes. The soldiers would like to hear a public acknowledgement of what caused their illnesses and would like a government official to say,” here’s your treatment and compensation.” This has not been done. It is my hope that when more of this information filters out into the larger population people will begin to examine it and hold the appropriate agencies accountable.
By Gary Null Ph.D.
After the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of our veterans suffered toxic reactions, neurological damage, and rare cancers due to exposure to 2,4,5,-D and 2,4,5-T dioxin that was used in the form of the defoliant Agent Orange. Unfortunately, it took 20 years for the government to acknowledge a link between Agent Orange and any of the illnesses that resulted from its use. Learning from that experience, we have accelerated efforts to associate the ailments that tens of thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands, of veterans of the Persian Gulf War are suffering with the toxic conditions to which they were exposed. Gulf veterans’ ailments include rare cancers, neurological disease, and autoimmune conditions, ranging from full-blown chronic fatigue syndrome to lupus, to scleroderma, to conditions shared within families.
By Gary Null Ph.D.
“The situation is unfair from start to finish. It begins with soldiers who are asked to participate in research or take experimental drugs, but are not told what the risks are before, during, or after.”
“Then information about the exposures is not included in the soldiers’ medical records, putting them at even greater risk. And when these soldiers leave the service and become veterans, the [Veterans Administration] lacks information about the exposures and about any resulting illnesses, making it more difficult to help them.”
“Finally, when these veterans become ill, they are unable to get the medical records and other information they need in order to prove that their illnesses are related to military service.”
“This situation is unacceptable.”
These strong words about service-related illness in Gulf War veterans sound like they come from a raddical veterans’ rights group activist. But they don’t. They were spoken by John D. Rockefeller IV, senator from West Virginia and the chair of the Senate’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. They were uttered May 6, 1994, when that committee held a hearing on the topic “Is Military Research Hazardous to Veterans’ Health?” In the aftermath of America’s Persian Gulf involvement, clearly the answer to that question was yes. Military research has been hazardous to veterans’ health.