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What the U.S. Could Learn About Military Sexual Assault From an Australian General

The top general in the U.S. Armed Forces warned President Obama in May, that sexual assault is a growing "epidemic."


The powerful documentary The Invisible War gives a face to some of the 20 percent of all active-duty female soldiers who are sexually assaulted while serving in the U.S. military. We learn about a few brave rape victims who take their cases to court, and we watch the U.S. government swiftly deny their claims.

The film puts into startling perspective what is happening to men and women in the service—what the top general in the U.S. Armed Forces called an "epidemic" in May. So far, there has been no action around the issue, even though the military released a report last month that unwanted sexual contact complaints involving military personnel jumped 37 percent, to 26,000 in 2012 from 19,000 the previous year. And that only includes those who come forward. Many are silenced through intimidation.

We recently learned that in Australia, where such occurrences are also an issue, it's not being dealt with so quietly. Australia's Lieutenant General David Morrison went public Tuesday in a scathing diatribe against perpetrators who engaged in such wrongdoing. "There is no place for you amongst this band of brothers and sisters," he seethed. It would be great to see someone in the States take such a passionate stance to ensure some change takes place. Until then, check out Morrison's ball-busting in the video below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaqpoeVgr8U

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The Most Important Thing I've Ever Learned from My Dad, the Veteran

Honoring Memorial Day means asking real questions to real veterans.

The problem with holidays like Memorial Day is the intangibility of the whole thing. While Occupy Wall Street inveighs against the 1 percent, the 1 percent most of us forget about are the Americans serving in our wars. Many people don't know anyone currently in the military, and even fewer know actual war veterans or men and women who have died in combat, the people Memorial Day was created to recognize following the bloodshed of the Civil War. Without ever meeting or talking to veterans about their experiences, honoring them on days like tomorrow or Veterans Day rings hollow. We're told that giving thanks to soldiers is the right thing to do, and we think we glean the horrors of war from films like Saving Private Ryan. But what do we really know about the ex-soldier's plight? What right do we even have pretending to empathize with them on Memorial Day with our yellow ribbons and our meager offers of thanks?

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U.S. General Says Soldiers Who Commit Suicide Are 'Selfish'

And we wonder why more soldiers aren't quick to ask for help with their PTSD.


After 10 years at war, American soldiers are showing severe signs of wear. Not only have 126,000 troops returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries since the start of the wars, another 70,000 of them have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. According to Army Vice Chief of Staff General Peter Chiarelli, the majority of soldiers disqualified from service due to injury have either TBI or PTSD.

As you might imagine, all that mental turmoil has resulted in erratic behavior in the military's ranks. Hundreds of American veterans and enlisted people still commit suicide every year, and for a couple years more soldiers were killing themselves than were dying on the battlefield. Crime is regular enough amongst the veteran community that special "veterans courts" have begun popping up around the United States.

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More U.S. Soldiers Killed Themselves Than Died in Combat in 2010

Since 2009, more U.S. troops have committed suicide than been killed on the battlefield. What's worse is that military doesn't know how to help them.


For the second year in a row, more American soldiers—both enlisted men and women and veterans—committed suicide than were killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Excluding accidents and illness, 462 soldiers died in combat, while 468 committed suicide. A difference of six isn't vast by any means, but the symbolism is significant and troubling. In 2009, there were 381 suicides by military personnel, a number that also exceeded the number of combat deaths. Earlier this month, military authorities announced that suicides amongst active-duty soldiers had slowed in 2010, while suicides amongst reservists and people in the National Guard had increased. It was proof, they said, that the frequent psychological screenings active-duty personnel receive were working, and that reservists and guardsmen, who are more removed from the military's medical bureaucracy, simply need to begin undergoing more health checks. This new data, that American soldiers are now more dangerous to themselves than the insurgents, flies right in the face of any suggestion that things are "working." Even if something's working, the system is still very, very broken.

One of the problems hindering the military's attempt to address soldier suicides is that there's no real rhyme or reason to what kind of soldier is killing himself. While many suicide victims are indeed afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after facing heavy combat in the Middle East, many more have never even been deployed. Of the 112 guardsmen who committed suicide last year, more than half had never even left American soil.

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Army General: Saving Energy Will Save Lives

Improving energy efficiency in military operations will save the lives of our brave troops overseas.

"Until the Defense Department develops battlefield policies recognizing that energy efficiency contributes to military effectiveness," writes retired Army brigadier general Steven M. Anderson in The New York Times, "more blood will be shed, billions of dollars will be wasted, our enemies will have thousands of vulnerable fuel trucks for targets and our commanders will continue to be distracted by the task of overseeing fuel convoys."

As I've said here over and over again—and as others, much more qualified than I have also said—the military and national security argument for clean energy and energy efficiency should not be ignored.

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