To be a marine is an honor, and it’s just as much about defending your country as it is about all the pomp and pageantry. It is a privilege to be able to serve your country and to identify yourself with the armed forces. At least that’s what I have always thought. Unfortunately that is not so much the case anymore. For women there are very different consequences of joining the armed forces, not just the ever present fact that you might give your life.
Sexual assault a threat to women that is just now becoming known in recent years. According to the Dept. of Defense (D.O.D.) tens of thousands of unwanted sexual contacts occur in the military every year, yet only a fraction of those get reported. This activity affects both men and women. According to one article I read, men more than half the victims are men, actually. But men in the service face the same risk of sexual assault as civilian men do. For women it is a very different struggle. Women who join the military, navy, marines and all other forms of the armed forces, face a much higher risk of sexual assault and abuse than civilian women do, on a day to day basis. As one young woman, a victim, put it, ” It’s like being in a horrible domestic violence marriage, that you can’t get divorced from”.
Now that we have established that it is certainly a problem, let’s look at why it is such a problem. Sexual assault in the military lowers the moral of the troops. It is also the cause of many PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) cases for women, not so much men as they suffer from PTSD due to all of the fighting, and blowing things and people up. But these aren’t the the only consequences of sexual assault infiltrating the armed forces. The biggest issue in my mind is that this problem, or epidemic as some people are calling it, is turning down young men and women who are willing to give all, to be service men and women of our great country. I can personally attest to this. I once seriously considered “joining up”. But I have no desire to have to face the difficulty of this type of treatment, and disrespect.
The pentagon and the DOD themselves have admitted that this stuff does happen. Now my only hope is that they will take the proper steps to support the victims and stop the offenders. I can’t help but think of one particular friend I know in navy, a friend of mine, whom I have known since I was pretty little. I will pray everyday, and hope that he has not fallen a victim to this as so many young men have.