Stand with victims of military sexual assault

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: February 2 2014 | 1:51 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:02 am in

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will consider proposed legislation to revise the Iowa Code of Military Justice by strengthening reporting requirements on military sexual assault as well as creating the uncovered crime category of military sexual predation.

We were surprised and concerned that Col. Gregory Hapgood, public affairs officer for the Iowa National Guard, was quick to report the organization’s skepticism of the legislation, a stance that is not in line with top military leadership, as the secretary of the Army’s top priority is to prevent sexual assault in the ranks.

His statement reflects the antiquated attitudes within the Iowa Guard organization about women soldiers who are victimized. He said policies are focused on “supporting victims and honoring victim’s wishes,” but that is not what victims are telling us. They say the system does not work. They say the policies that supposedly focused on them only blamed, shamed and created retaliation against them, while perpetrators went ignored and unpunished.

MST survivors also tell us that they love and respect the Iowa Guard and that their greatest accomplishments are their military awards and decorations. They report that they had great leaders. But the power of a few soldiers, some peers, some commanders, ruined their lives and they’re willing to speak out in hopes of preventing another one of their battle buddies from falling victim to these perpetrators and the system that protects them.

We stand for the silent group of victimized women (and men) who demand change.

Bob Krause

President, Veterans

National Recovery Center

Miyoko Hikiji

Project Director,

Military Sexual

Trauma

Des Moines

 

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