Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Can We Change?

Society evolves, do we?  Yesterday was not a good day for me.  Because of my position, I had to lead the mandated Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training for my division.  It is a step forward to begin addressing an issue that is affecting the morale and welfare of the US Military.  As I led this session to address the issues of date rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and violence against others I had to work to keep my emotions in check.  My Air Force is damaged, my Chief of Staff was hauled in front of the Senate to explain why this problem exists in the military and what is the Department going to do about it.  It was an ugly, but necessary, event -- a bunch of four-star generals, all older white men, trying to figure out what is going on with the young people who could be their children and grandchildren.
We will do something, we will address it, we will focus our senior leaderships attention on the issue, but will it change?  Most seem to think the US Military is different than the rest of the nation.  I don’t know why they think that but they do.  In reality we are a microcosm of our society.  What you see in the junior ranks is exactly what you see in society, whether it is in commercial business, the social scene, on a college campus.  We have men and woman who are sexually active, who care more about their needs than their partners, have been taught by society it is okay to get someone drunk and continue on without consent.  How are we as a service going to change when the people we receive from society are preconditioned to be who they are?
We are going to deal with this issue exactly the same way we dealt with racial inequality in the 70’s.  We will train people on what to expect, how to protect themselves, how to become intolerant of the violence, how to look out for the weak.  While I am sad for my Air Force, I have a much greater concern for society at large where no such standards or education will be applied.  I believe colleges will continue to down play the statistics of date rape so not to scare away prospective students.  I believe women and men who are raped will continue to under report crimes for the humiliation that comes, police and prosecutors will not fight aggressively for victims and at trial the defense will continue to portray the victims as the cause, not the rapist.
I know my Air Force will change, I wonder if my society can?


Jeannette said...

John have you see the Australian response? I will send you a link to it, just in case it escaped your notice.

John David said...
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John David said...

I like your take on this. I wish the AF had more people like you leading those workshops, though I'm not sure if your hands were tied by the program at all.
I still feel that most people are generally good, but group-think and whatever other psychological phenomena that occur when 30 young guys get together tends to be a little more pervasive in the military, just like 30 guys on a sports team or fraternity..etc). So there is reason to be more proactive than society in general.

Incidentally, I just learned today that incidence of PTSD in rape survivors is greater than incidence for veterans (33% vs. 20%). I know that has nothing to do with your blog, but interesting nonetheless. Also thought of you when we talked about the military trials on treating soldiers with a beta-blocker immediately following an event that may cause PTSD and being a promising prophylactic treatment.

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