The Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel released its report regarding the scourge of military sexual trauma. This was the supposedly independent panel (not really) established by Congress to examine how the military was combating the longstanding crimes of rape and sexual trauma in the military and to make recommendations as to how the military can do better. There has been a lot of talk about the recommendations to keep reporting and adjudication within the chain of command. However, there is one recommendation no one is talking about.
More specifically, providing more resources for healing and more funding for research on survivors of male-on-male rape and assault in the military. There is no dispute that men are the majority of victims within the military. What is new is that male victims are finally being recognized and noticed for the huge lack of resources facing them? No, wait, that’s not new either…
In 2004, the Defense Task Force on Care for Victims of Sexual Assault recommended that more information be gathered concerning male survivors. What happened to that recommendation? Nothing. In 2009, the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services recommended that male survivors of sexual assault be given separate treatment areas and that protocols be established specifically for treating male survivors. What happened to those recommendations? Ignored. In 2013, the United States Commission on Civil Rights discussed at great length the need to have more representation of male survivors. Where did this recommendation go? Into the circular file. So please excuse male survivors if we are a little less than hopeful regarding actual implementation of the one single recommendation regarding male survivors in this latest report.
Even this latest report marginalizes a large minority of the male survivor community in the military. Namely, it continues to ignore the reality of female-on-male rapes and sexual assaults. The Department of Defense’s own survey has estimated that when men are the victims, women are the perpetrator about forty percent of the time. Former Marine Sergeant James Landrith knows this reality all too well. While the Department of Defense continues to ignore this issue, CNN and other media outlets are beginning to cover it. A recent CNN article on Landrith was actually named one of the top 10 news stories of the year for that news section. Media interest is clearly there and victims are speaking out more, so why does the DoD still ignore the issue?
Supposedly the Department of Defense and the Veterans Health Administration share knowledge, reports, and information. If that is the case, why does the Veterans Health Administration continue the same ineffectual health care policies that have clearly failed in the Department of Defense? There are no dedicated programs specifically for male survivors of military sexual trauma. Male survivors, in some cases, still have to go to the women’s clinic at their local VA to receive care. No research is taking place for male survivors at the Veterans Health Administration. Clearly, VHA is no friend of the male survivor.
We have heard some empty promises from the Secretary of Defense about how he has directed the Sexual Assault and Prevention Response Office to address these shortcomings. Unfortunately, Secretary Hagel’s words are not being turned into action. Who is advising Major General Snow and his staff on how best to reach male survivors? Aside from Men Recovering from Military Sexual Trauma, there are no U.S. advocacy organizations dedicated solely to male survivors of sexual abuse endured as an adult, whether inside or outside of the military.
So, what is the game plan for the federal government? Issue more empty words and hope the issue goes away? Male survivors have endured in silence for far too long. It is our turn to have a seat at the table to talk about the reality of being a victim of sexual crimes. Please join Men Recovering from Military Sexual Trauma as we start a march toward equality for male survivors of sexual violence in the military.