Photo Scandal Hurts Effort To Change Marine Corps Culture

Preparing for change with U.S. Marine Corps Integration Education Plan

Major Misty Posey leads a 2016 class for Marine Corps leaders about integrating women into combat roles. Credit: Lance Cpl. Harley Robinson/U.S. Marine Corps

My colleague with the American Homefront Project, Jay Price,  reports on efforts to change the culture within the Marine Corps after revelations that hundreds of Marines shared lewd photos of women.

The Marines are famous for their close-knit team spirit, a cohesion that Marine leaders say the Corps’ recent photo sharing scandal has undermined.

Photographs of female Marines, some of them explicit, were passed around on social media by male Marines and veterans. Some of the women apparently did not know they were being photographed. The images were shared in a Facebook group which has more than 30,000 members.

The existence of the photos was revealed by Thomas Brennan, a North Carolina investigative journalist.

In a video posted by the Pentagon after the revelations, Marine Commandant General Robert Neller was blunt.

“We are all-in 24/7,” Neller said, “and if that commitment to your excellence interferes with your ‘me time,’ or if you can’t or are unwilling to commit to contributing 100 percent to our Corps’ war fighting ability by being a good teammate and improving cohesion and trust, then I have to ask you, ‘Do you really want to be a Marine?'”

But comments posted under online stories about the scandal make it clear that some Marines disagree, like this one in the Marine Corps Times:

“How bout giving homage to a female that takes care of her body and looks good? We can do that anymore?” Continue reading

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Military Sexual Assault Report From The Academies

Courtesy Dept. of Defense

There’s a bit of good news, but more not-so-good news in this year’s Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies just released by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The good news comes from the Air Force Academy “which received 32 reports of sexual assault (15 Unrestricted and 17 Restricted Reports) down from 49 reports in academic program year 2014-2015” according to the report.

But there were increased incidents from both the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy:

The Military Academy received 26 reports (20 Unrestricted and 6 Restricted Reports) up from 17 reports and the Naval Academy received 28 reports (20 Unrestricted and 8 Restricted Reports) up from 25 reports in academic program year 2014- 2015.

Another conclusion by the report, 89 percent of cadets and midshipmen who experienced sexual harassment or gender discrimination report it was committed by another academy student. The full report in PDF is available here.

Congress Hears Military Sexual Trauma Testimony

Credit: Iowa VA

Credit: Iowa VA

More mental health programs are needed for male veterans who are living with Military Sexual Trauma (MST) according to a top psychologist and researcher from Bay Pines VA Health Care System.

Dr. Carol O’Brien, chief of the Bay Pines VA Post Traumatic Stress Disorder programs, testified Friday before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Health subcommittee. The hearing was titled: Safety for Survivors: Care and Treatment for Military Sexual Trauma.

O’Brien, who started the first residential program specific to military sexual trauma, said the VA is making progress treating PTSD linked to sexual trauma.

“But, we need programs to specifically address the complex family problems, behavioral issues, and co-occurring disorders that are typically seen in this group of veterans,” O’Brien said.

She also suggests providing earlier treatment in the VA as well as for active-duty military for those who have experienced military sexual trauma.

Three veterans, each a victim of military sexual assault, also  testified Friday. Their testimony was so powerful it evoked sympathy and apologies from the members of congress sitting on the panel.

The House members also expressed frustration with what they perceive as a lack of urgency from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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