Throughout history, the United States Military has faced numerous scandals. From its role in the Vietnam War, to the Iran-Contra Affair, to the Iraq War, to the abuse and denial of due process rights to detainees currently held indefinitely at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; the Department of Defense has undeniably raised many questions about its ethics and treatment toward both civilians and fellow members of the Armed Forces alike. One recent scandal, which would now appear to be becoming the standard, is that of sexual assault within the military. However, due to a campaign of awareness, grassroots activism, and pressuring elected officials to do what is right, things are now beginning to change.
It can, and has, been argued that the military justice system is flawed. In the civilian world, when a person is sexually assaulted, they can report it to the proper authorities and have the matter investigated promptly. In the military, one is bound to a different set of rules when they swear in and take their oath. They are no longer a civilian, and are now bound to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. When an incident of sexual assault takes place, the victim needs to report the assault up to their chain of command, who then make the decision of whether or not to prosecute. This can take a longer time than it normally would for civilians, and generally produces a low rate of convictions.
Military sexual assault can be defined as unwilling sexual contact between one or more uniformed personnel, frequently associated with physical threats and/or use of force. Unwillingness refers to the victim not consenting to the sexual act being performed, whether the act is performed while the victim is conscious or unconscious, or if the victim is incapacitated in any way. The impact that this has on victims is very severe and comes in many different forms. In “The Invisible War,” it is noted that “women who have been raped in the military have a PTSD rate higher than men who have been in combat” (The Invisible War, 2012). The impact that military sexual assault has on victims is tremendous. Both physical and mental trauma are common, and they play a significant role in how victims of sexual assault are able to return to their daily lives.
Research conducted by Valerie L. Forman-Hoffman, Michelle Mengeling, Brenda M. Booth, James Torner, and Anne G. Sadler (2012) on the study of eating disorders, PTSD, and sexual trauma among female veterans found that “overall, nearly 62% of respondents reported at least one attempted or completed sexual trauma during their lifetime, nearly 51% reported at least one completed rape, and an additional 10.9% reported at least one attempted sexual assault solely. Almost one-third (32.5%) of respondents reported sexual trauma during military service (24.6% completed rape and an additional 7.9% attempted sexual assault). ... In addition, about one in five (24.6%) reported lifetime PTSD diagnosis”...