by Ariana Pekary
This week, The Bob Edwards Show presents a special series, “An ‘Occupational Hazard’: Rape in the Military.” One in three of active-duty women serving the U.S. military have reported being the victim of sexual assault while serving, which is double the rate for civilians. Based on estimates from the Department of Defense, 19,000 servicemen and women were attacked in 2010; however, a vast majority of those violent acts don’t get reported because in the military, victims are required to report within their chain of command. As such, only eight-percent are brought to justice. Defending itself in civilian court in 2011, the Pentagon argued that sexual assault is an “occupational hazard” in the military.
Today’s program presents a portrait of the enduring culture in the military which protects criminals while creating a mental, physical and professional trap for the victims. We hear intimate details from servicemen and women and their families about how Military Sexual Trauma has been a destructive force in their lives. Advocates share stories and describe why this issue has become their passion. And lastly, we visit Capitol Hill to hear lawmakers struggle to reform one of the largest and most powerful institutions in the world: the U.S. military.
Ben Klay learned about his wife’s rape after he caught her trying to kill herself. Ariana and Ben were both Marine Officers at the time, both had deployed to war zones, and yet, both say the ugliest battle they’ve witnessed took place right here at home. Ben captures the sentiment of many interviewed throughout this series:
“The ultimate betrayal is the senior leadership. It’s not farfetched that there are bad people in this world but it baffles the mind to think that the most powerful and possibly the most respected institution in the United States perpetuates, condones, covers up rape and attacks the women, who have been raped in the most degrading way.”
This is a problem that spans the military academies, the active military, and even reaches the Department of Veterans Affairs. Each day this week, The Bob Edwards Show will feature detailed interviews with victims, their family members and service providers.
Monday, July 30, 2012: Today The Bob Edwards Show presents the premier documentary feature in a series titled “An ‘Occupational Hazard’: Rape in the Military.” We will hear from servicemen and women about their sexual trauma, advocates who help treat and raise awareness about the problem, and lawmakers about what is and isn’t being done to change the culture that protects sexual predators.
Tuesday, July 31, 2012: The culture that seemingly tolerates sexual assault begins early in the military careers of patriotic young men and women. In the latest assessment, there were 65 sexual assaults reported at the military academies, only one went to court martial, and the number of reported sexual assaults doubled at the U.S. Naval Academy. Annie Kendzior was a star student and athlete recruited to the academy in her junior year of high school, the first ever. Annie and her father Russ Kendzior describe how she was then assaulted twice in her first semester, and after reporting those attacks her junior year, the Naval Academy had her dismissed claiming she had a personality disorder. Next, Tina Reed is former Naval Academy reporter for the Capital Gazette and she discusses what she has learned about the assaults through FOIA requests. Lastly, Shelley Tillman was a sergeant in the Army and she describes the degrading environment she endured as a woman in boot camp.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012: In part three of our special series, “An ‘Occupational Hazard’: Rape in the Military,” Bob talks to two survivors. Ariana Klay was a National Merit Scholar and Division 1 Soccer player before she was recruited to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. As an officer in the Marine Corps, she was deployed to Iraq in 2008. A year after her return, she was gang-raped in her home one block from base in Washington, DC. The Marine Corp convicted a fellow Marine of adultery, but not rape. Ben Klay graduated from Yale University and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government before becoming a Marine officer where he served two deployments. Ariana and her husband Ben discuss her sexual assault, how the military handled her case, and their subsequent recovery. Then, Elle Helmer was also an officer in the Marine Corps when she was sexually attacked by her superior in 2006. Her case is one of eight which has been filed against Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta for a lack of response. Attorney Susan Burke will explain the status of the lawsuits she has filed against the Pentagon.
Thursday, August 2, 2012: Today, in part four of this week’s series, “An ‘Occupational Hazard’: Rape in the Military,” we hear an extended version of the interview with Brian Lewis who enlisted in the Navy after graduating from high school. Three years later he was raped by a senior petty officer. Lewis will discuss that attack, why he was diagnosed with a personality disorder, how his military career ended, and the treatment he has received as a male survivor of Military Sexual Trauma. Nancy Parrish is president of Protect Our Defenders and she’ll explain how widespread sexual assaults are throughout the military, starting with the academies.
Friday, August 3, 2012: We conclude this week’s feature series, “An ‘Occupational Hazard’: Rape in the Military” with Congresswoman Jackie Speier who discusses military sexual violence and her bill to help prevent it, the STOP Act, the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act.
Protect Our Defenders: http://www.protectourdefenders.com/
Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN): http://servicewomen.org/
The Soldiers Project, which provides free, confidential psychological services for servicemembers: http://www.thesoldiersproject.org/
More about the STOP Act: http://speier.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=205&Itemid=47
Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military for FY 2011: http://www.sapr.mil/media/pdf/reports/Department_of_Defense_Fiscal_Year_2011_Annual_Report_on_Sexual_Assault_in_the_Military.pdf