My loyal readers!  It’s been awhile.  I’ve missed you.  Truly.  Holiday and family madness kept me from my dear old blog, but I’m back!  Happy new year.  I wish everyone a 2012 filled with peace, education and reform.

I have a long, long list of topics to cover in this new year, but two issues have crossed my path in past couple of days, and I figured here is as good a place as any to get back into the swing of things.

Yesterday, I read this article which was written about a year ago: 1/3 of Women in US Military Raped.  The article details the following statistics:

  • According to a 2004 study, 71% of female veterans seeking PTSD treatment had been raped or sexually assaulted (by other US military officers).
  • Another study showed that 90% of rapes in the military go unreported.
  • When they are reported, 62% of those found guilty of rape or abuse received “demotion, suspension, or a written reprimand” as punishment.
Bear in mind, much of our overseas military operations are now managed by private firms like Blackwater and Halliburton, and the situation is similar:
  • In 2005, a female operative was gang raped by defense contractors with Halliburton/KBR.  “Her injuries were so extensive that she had lacerations to her vagina and anus, her breast implants were ruptured, and her pectoral muscles torn. The response of KBR was to lock her in a shipping container with only a bed, and to deny her food, water, and medical treatment. The rape kit that was taken after she regained consciousness was mysteriously lost.”

There’s another investigation currently underway, about the contested suicide of Private Danny Chen.  Pvt. Chen was taunted by his fellow soldiers, and was the victim of constant racially charged abuse.  He was found dead from a gunshot, in a watchtower in Afghanistan, on October 3rd.  His family has made this video, called What Happened to Danny?

There’s a lot of yellow-ribbon talk.  A lot of conversation about our brave soldiers, and what they put on the line for us on a daily basis.  But in whom, exactly, are we putting our trust?

According to a 1998 DOJ survey [1], 1 in 4 women on college campuses in the U.S. have been raped, or have suffered attempted rape.  That’s 25%.  The 2004 study referenced earlier in this post shows that 71% of female veterans with PTSD have been raped or assaulted.  Why, I wonder, do the rates of rape and sexual abuse go up nearly 50% in the armed forces, as compared to civilian life?

We of course have the shame of the 2004-2006 Abu Ghraib abuses to refer to if we’re looking for any causes for concern with those in the armed services.  There, several US soldiers forced Iraqi prisoners to cover themselves in shit, walk around naked, and arrange themselves in humiliating sexual positions while the soliders took grinning, thumbs-up photos.

I don’t have a particular thesis I’d like to make in this post.  More, I think I’m posing some questions.

The first is: Do our armed forced attract fucked up people?  Is the US Military a place where miscreants imagine they can allow their demons to live out loud?

Or, is it the challenge of being on a tour of duty that causes otherwise normal, respectable citizens to become torturers, abusers and rapists?  And if the answer is B, what the fuck are we doing to them?

Either way, we’ve got some serious problems to look at.  If our soldiers are treating one another this way – that is, with racism and aggression – we can only imagine how they’re treating the foreigners whose homelands they’re living in.  And really, that’s just for starters.  We anoint the holy image of fatigue-glad servicemen with implied halo and wings, just because they’re willing to don the outfit and get on a plane.  As with all over-simplifications, it’s an incomplete rendering, and one we should be careful not to fall for too completely.


Further Reading: