Monday, February 18, 2013
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) wants all Americans to serve their government, including women. On Friday he introduced one bill that would reinstate the draft and another that would require all women to register for Selective Service as well.
Rangel introduced the The National Universal Service Act (H.R. 747) for the sixth time since first being proposed in 2003 during the Iraq war. H.R 747 “would require 30 million people in the United States between the ages of 18 and 25 to perform two years of national service in either the armed services or in civilian life.”
Rangel also introduced the All American Selective Service Act (H.R. 748) which requires all women to enroll in the Selective Service System. This would essentially double the number of registrants. The current law requires only men ages 18 to 25 to register, leaving approximately only 13.5 million in the registry.
“Now that women can serve in combat they should register for the Selective Service alongside their male counterparts,” said Rangel in a statement. “Reinstating the draft and requiring women to register for the Selective Service would compel the American public to have a stake in the wars we fight as a nation. We must question why and how we go to war, and who decides to send our men and women into harm’s way.”
The last time Rangel introduced the “draft” bill was in 2011 on the very same day the Obama Administration launched a preemptive war in Libya on no-fly zone orders from the U.N., without Congressional approval, and despite never having been attacked or threatened by Libya.
He admitted at the time that the Iraq war was based on lies, “on false pretenses of weapons of mass destruction and involvement in the 9/11.” Yet he still insisted more Americans should be “sharing in duty and service.”
In one sense Rangel truly believes all Americans should serve their country in some capacity, especially because the military is stretched so thin where multiple tours of duty are resulting in increased PTSD and record suicide rates.
On the other hand, he also believes a draft would force more young Americans to question the necessity of current wars.
“I served in Korea, and understand that sometimes war is inevitable,” Rangel continued. “However military engagement should be our last resort. If we must go to war, every American should be compelled to stop and think twice about whether it is worth sending our brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters to fight. Currently less than one percent of America’s population is unfairly shouldering the burden of war.”
By: Cassie M. Chew
February 18, 2013 at 5:00 PM EDT
Lawmakers are paying close attention to a new Academy Award-nominated documentary that exposes a persistent climate of rape within the U.S. military. NewsHour senior correspondent Judy Woodruff talked with a pair of Democrats, along with filmmakers and experts, last week after a screening of “The Invisible War,” in light of a Defense Department estimate that in 2010 more than 19,000 service members were sexually assaulted.
The film, in the running for a 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, presents story after story of former servicewomen and men across all branches of the military who say they were sexually assaulted by a fellow service member during the time of their service. The film describes a climate in the military that, in the words of one victim, is designed to help women better deal with the inevitability of getting raped.
By Janet Allon
Special Note: AlterNet is celebrating One Billion Rising – a day to stop rape and violence against women – on February 14 at its West Coast office! Join us for refreshments and fun starting at 6pm. For more information, visit our events page. You can also sign up to start your own event for One Billion Rising, or find out where you can attend.
In many ways, what happened to Petty Officer Second Class Rebecca Blumer after she was roofied and raped by three Army officers she met in a bar not far from base was far worse than the attack itself. Her superiors became more intent on prosecuting her for D.U.I. than on finding out what really happened to this promising young intelligence analyst. What’s worse is that her brutal story, recounted in riveting detail by journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely in this month’s Rolling Stone magazine, is far from uncommon. The military, as films like The Invisible War and Erdely’s article show, has a rape problem of epidemic proportions. It is estimated that one in three military women are raped by fellow troops, twice the number of their civilian counterparts. One survivor of multiple rapes quoted in Erdely’s article calls the military a “giant rape cult.” In 2010, the DoD found that 19,000 service members were sexually assaulted. Of those a paltry 3,100, or 13.5 percent, were reported, and of those only 17 percent were prosecuted. All too often, attackers receive a slap on the wrist while their victims lose their careers and their futures, sometimes falling into homelessness, despair and suicidal thoughts.
I recently spoke with Erdely about her article, and was surprised to find that despite the horrific experiences of Blumer and other military rape victims, there might just be a glimmer of hope at the end of a long dark road spanning Tailhook, Lackland Air Force, Aberdeen and probably many sexual assault scandals that have never come to light.
Janet Allon: What drew you to the topic of sexual assault in the military?
Sabrina Rubin Erdely: I’ve written a lot on the subject of sexual assault in general, and have long been interested in the way these cases are handled and the way they are perceived by society. In both military sexual assault and civilian sexual assault, there are these rape myths that get in the way of survivors reporting these crimes.
Rape myths are at the heart of sexual assault and how it is handled, but these problems are magnified in the military. The military’s rape epidemic is magnified by military culture.
JA: Describe that culture and how it magnifies the problem.
SRE: For starters, the military is very macho. There is great emphasis placed on strength, for obvious reasons. Weakness is deplored, strength is prized, and femininity equates with weakness. If you can’t do enough pullups, you’re a pussy. Everything is gendered.
What is ingrained in troops is a degradation of women and the ethos is saturated with the harassment of women. It’s a culture of harassment within a closed structure. That message is absorbed and communicated throughout people’s military careers. And this degradation of women paves the way for sexual assault.
This is a problem in general, not just for women. You can’t admit to having any kind of weakness. Soldiers can’t admit to PTSD. Any sort of weakness means you can’t perform your mission. Saying you were a victim of a crime is further evidence that you are not fit for military.
One of the most critical challenges facing the U.S. military has been a problem for a long time: sexual assaults. At his first Pentagon news conference in 1997, then-Defense Secretary William Cohen, a former U.S. Republican senator from Maine, said, “I intend to enforce a strict policy of zero tolerance of hazing, of sexual harassment and of racism.”
In 2004, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, sitting on the Armed Services Committee, responded with great concern when she learned of 112 reports of servicewomen, working in the Persian Gulf area, being sexually assaulted or raped by fellow troops, plus about two dozen more reports of sexual abuse filed at a rape-crisis center near an Air Force base in Texas.
The rape and sexual assault of men and women in the military is not specifically a Maine issue, nor will it, in any way, be addressed by Maine leaders alone. But Maine does have a role to play, and congressional leaders should listen up. Pay attention to a bill proposed by Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. — to be co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District — that will be introduced on Wednesday.
Called the Ruth Moore Act of 2013 — to honor Ruth Moore, of the Washington County town of Milbridge, who was raped by her supervisor in the Navy — it would reduce the standard of proof that the Veterans Administration currently requires to determine disability compensation for veterans with mental health conditions related to military sexual trauma. When Moore was 18 and serving her country, she was attacked twice by her immediate supervisor and was further victimized as she worked for years to get the benefits she was due.
The bill isn’t about giving people disability benefits simply because they say they were assaulted. They must have a mental health condition — such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or depression — that is diagnosed by a mental health professional as being related to military sexual trauma and consistent with the circumstances of service.
A person’s mental health condition and its military connection could still be refuted by “clear and convincing evidence to the contrary,” according to the bill’s draft language, but the person would not have to meet the unreasonable burden of proving that the sexual attack occurred — such as by having the perpetrator convicted at a military trial.
Published: February 9, 2013
By state Sen. Danny Verdin — Special to The Herald
On the same day that I offered to the S.C. Senate a resolution that would formally ask our congressional delegation to take action to mitigate Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s lifting of a 1994 ban on women in combat roles, this paper chose to offer an editorial in support of Secretary Panetta’s action. Certainly that is the privilege of the press in a land that still values the First Amendment to the Constitution. Interestingly enough, in making the case for this monumental change, the following sentenced was used:
“Other nations have long demonstrated that women were suitable for combat.”
This statement gives an open window to a greatly flawed philosophy – flawed in two ways, or perhaps, “on two fronts.” However, before I address that, I should re-emphasize that the context in which this resolution was offered was one of acknowledging the significant contributions of women in the military history of this country. Moreover, it was recounted that there have been exceptional acts of bravery and heroism by women serving in battle, from the days of the Revolution until today. God forbid that we should forget the 130 mothers, sisters and daughters that have made the ultimate sacrifice during our years of engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Specifically, as I addressed my colleagues, my focal point was that of a Revolutionary-era teenage girl named Laodicia Langston, or “Daring Dicey” as she would become known. In a Whig family, living amongst Tories (loyalists), she learned that “Bloody Bill” Cunningham was planning an assault on the local band of patriots that included her brothers. She started out during the night, traveling four miles and crossing a swollen river to warn them of the impending attack. Nearly drowning, but, nonetheless successful, she warned them and they were able to redeploy and avoid slaughter by the British.
Which brings me to my opening statement – like her family, Dicey was an American and unconcerned by what “other nations” might do or think. At what point, did we depart from that perspective to think of ourselves as nothing more than “world citizens”?
The other element of this flawed philosophy is stating that women are “suitable for combat.” Mere suitability is a poor standard, not as it addresses the military, but as it addresses women. There is a fine line between creating opportunity for women and removing them from the position of respect that is a hallmark of a civilized people. We are in danger of crossing that line.
Lest we forget how important this idea is, keep in mind that the current enemies of the U.S. live in a barbaric society. This is seen so clearly in the manner in which they treat women.
As a matter of full disclosure, know that I have two daughters. What of the daughters they might have one day? Will they be fair game for a draft? Where does this end?
We need to have a debate about this critical matter. Our Congress needs to address this matter; it should not end with the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen. Our mothers, sisters and daughters are more than subjects for a mere social experiment.
By Nina Burleigh 1/29 7:41pm
For 30 years, women’s groups have been fighting to put American women in combat. Last week they won. Women can now apply for 237,000 positions—primarily infantry and army—from which they were previously banned. That’s a quarter of a million new jobs, and outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta deserves applause for opening them up.
But is it really time to uncork the champagne for our future G.I. Janes? Allowing qualified women into combat is a political triumph. But there’s a more insidious problem for women in the military, a misogynistic tradition older than the nation itself: when men go to war, women get raped.
In the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, “military sexual trauma” has been so pervasive it got its own acronym: MST. According to a Defense Department survey in 2010, an estimated 19,000 American servicewomen were sexually assaulted—that’s a stunning 11 percent of the total number serving. Yet, in 2011, fewer than 500 sexual assault cases made it to court martial, and the number of actual convictions and prison sentences is in the low hundreds.
(CBS News) NEW YORK – Jennifer Norris has always described herself as a good soldier, a hard worker, and someone who stayed out of trouble.
At 24, the Bethel, Maine, native was looking for a bit more structure in her life while aiming for a graduate degree, so she went to her local military recruiting office and enlisted in the Air Force.
Her dream of serving her country was marred by countless incidents of sexual harassment, three attempted sexual assaults, and one rape.
The most violent attack occurred just weeks after Norris enlisted, when her recruiting officer invited her to what she believed was a party for fellow recruits at his home.
“I was excited to go and meet other new recruits,” Norris said in an interview. “And I showed up at his house, and he proceeded to immediately start pressuring me to want to drink.”
Because she had driven, Norris did not consume any alcohol, but believes he put something in a glass that made her pass out.
“When I woke up, the whole house was dark. Nobody was there, and he picked me up, my basically powerless, lifeless body, and carried me into a bedroom, and he raped me,” Norris said.
She did not file a formal complaint.
“Because I hadn’t even started my career yet. I wasn’t about to go in and say the recruiter just raped me,” Norris said.
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