Monday, April 20, 2009

A Reflection on Duty

It's a time of hard lessons and optimism, and its hard for me to call attention to my own issues when they may not seem as important as job-loss and poverty.

What is harder to forget is that our nation is still at war, still pouring money into faraway conflicts, and still spending our most valuable resource: our young citizens.

Until there is a draft, it is these people that I want to give my attention. Whatever our views on the war, I think Americans can come together in support of our young people in arms by giving them our good will and respect. I want to show my good will by making sure that any young American is informed about the nature of this war, and the affects of any war on a body and mind.

Adversity can come in many forms. There's a BBC article about women soldiers that came out recently stating that, by studies funded by the Department of Veteran's Affairs, 30% of military women are raped while serving, 71% are sexually assaulted, and 90% are sexually harassed.

"I was less scared of the mortar rounds that came in every day than I was of the men who shared my food," says Chantelle Hennebery, a seventeen year old soldier in Iraq. When Chantelle reported sexual harassment and assault by her superior officer, the only response she received was to be transferred to a different regiment.

It's not hard to imagine why so many women are afraid to report sexual abuse. "There's an unwritten code of silence when it comes to sexual assault in the military," says Marti Ribeiro, an Airforce Sergeant who was assualted by a fellow serviceman while on duty in Afghanistan. "It's taken me more than a year to realise that it wasn't my fault... The military has a way of making females believe they brought this upon themselves. That's wrong."

It is barely a comfort to know that the Department of Defense acknowledges this problem, estimating in its 2009 annual report on sexual assault that some 90% of military sexual assaults are never reported.

Our young women deserve better. I hope you will join me in searching for a better way to treat all of our young citizens. We owe it to them.

Thank you for your time and patience. I hope that you are enjoying the spring, and best of luck in your endeavors.


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