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Wed., Dec. 11, 2013

Military can’t protect its own

Hopefully, many Spokesman-Review subscribers read the Nov. 28 Rekha Basu column about the 2012 documentary “The Invisible War” addressing sexual assault in our military and the need for outside intervention for rape victims.

Alarming statistics in the article – “26,000 unwanted sexual contacts or assaults in the past fiscal year” – and the fact that an estimated 80 percent of the 70 sexual assaults believed to occur daily go unreported because of a perceived institutional lack of accountability for sexual predators and rapists, suggest at best benign neglect and at worst complicity by both military leadership and rank and file.

Recently, top brass assured the Senate that the military has “zero tolerance” for such behavior. Critical Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was chided by Sen. John McCain, maintaining that she lacks military experience and is unequipped to “get it,” even though the Senate and House oversee the Department of Defense. Incredibly, the column noted that two years ago a class-action lawsuit filed by survivors “was dismissed with the court ruling that rape is an occupational hazard of military service.”

This is a sorry pass. How can our military protect us when it cannot protect its own?

David Fietz

Springdale, Wash.

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