Women in the Military: An NPR Series Continues

Photo courtesy of the BBB Military website.

Photo courtesy of the BBB Military website.

The NPR series on women in the military continues with a look at the problem of sexual assault. Quil Lawrence reported Wednesday that the Pentagon’s own research showed that more than 1 in 4 women in the military will experience sexual assault during their careers.

About 19,000 sex crimes take place in the military each year, according to the Pentagon’s most recent estimate. Many of the victims are male, but men in the service face the same risk of sexual assault as civilian men do. It’s a different story for women. Women who join the military face a much higher risk of sexual assault than civilian women.

“It’s a complex problem because it involves a culture change,” says Maj. Gen. Gary Patton, the head of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. “We have to see a culture change where those victims of this crime are taken seriously at their unit level by every member of their unit, so you don’t see the divisiveness and the lack of support and the feeling of isolation that these victims feel.”

How U.S. families adjust to having a mother or daughter or wife head off to war is the topic of Tuesday’s story. And Monday, the series looked at the battle women have had to wage to get recognized for serving in combat. It dates back to 1779.

There’s a lot of reflection going on with the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion. The NPR program Fresh Air talked with journalist Aaron Glantz from the Center for Investigative Reporting about his series of articles on the backlog of veterans’ claims for help from the VA.

In addition to the tens of thousands of Iraqis who died, the war cost the lives of nearly 4,500 American service members, and wounded more than 32,200 men and women in America’s military. Many of the wounded vets have faced — or are still facing — long waits for their disability and other benefits to begin.

Journalist Aaron Glantz has written a series of articles for the Center for Investigative Reporting about how government bureaucracy is failing veterans when it comes to these benefits. He says 900,000 veterans are waiting for benefits and that the number will surpass one million “very soon.”

The Costs of War project through Brown University reported that the cost of the Iraq War was more than 190,000 lives and more than $2.2 trillion.

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