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    Another sex scandal rocks the U.S. military



    Story by Joseph Piek  

    Joint Base Lewis-McChord Public Affairs Office     

    My personal Facebook page lit up March 5 with military and civilian public affairs officers around the world remarking on breaking news of a scandal involving Marines accused of sharing nude photos of female service members on a closed Facebook group.

    My first thought — here we go again.

    My second thought — we’re better than this.

    One former PAO colleague commented on a Washington Post article: “Disgusting!”

    I replied: “Inexcusable.”

    In 1991, the Tailhook scandal stunned the Navy and Marine Corps when more than 100 aviation officers were alleged to have sexually assaulted or engaged in indecent conduct with more than 80 women and seven men at the Las Vegas Hilton during the annual Tailhook Association Symposium.

    Five years later, the foundation of the Army was rocked when allegations of sexual misconduct by drill instructors against basic trainees and advanced-training students surfaced at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

    At a Pentagon press conference Nov. 7, 1996, then Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dennis Reimer announced the existence of a substantial investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by training cadre, and the Army’s “zero tolerance” for the alleged activity. The Army set up a hotline for other victims and for female trainees who may have gone AWOL because of sexual assault by an instructor.

    It was at that same press conference that General Reimer unveiled the seven Army Values — Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honesty, Integrity and Personal Courage. I don’t know when he’d planned to roll out the Army values, but his decision to do it when facing this challenging situation was spot on.

    I recall him saying at the news conference “We’re better than this, and America deserves better than this.”

    I was the lead Army spokesperson at the Pentagon for the next eight months during this scandal. As I spoke with countless news reporters nationwide, General Reimer’s words resonated — “We’re better than this.”

    Since the 1990s, DOD has established sexual assault and prevention training; and moreover, in recent years, multiple avenues have been put in place for reporting sexual assault or harassment, and many resources have been established for victims.

    We’ve made great strides in 20 years toward reducing sexual assault and harassment — and we have — but then a situation like this happens, it reminds us that we always must remain vigilant and aware of what is taking place around us.

    On March 10, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said in a statement about the new investigation, “The purported actions of civilian and military personnel on social media websites … represent egregious violations of the fundamental values we uphold at the Department of Defense.

    “Lack of respect for the dignity and humanity of fellow members of the Department of Defense is unacceptable and harmful to the unit cohesion necessary to battlefield victory. We will not excuse or tolerate such behavior if we are to uphold our values.…”

    April is Sexual Assault/Awareness Prevention Month, but ending sexual assault and sexual harassment is a year-round endeavor.

    All leaders must remain fully engaged with those they lead, and every member of our DOD community must be committed to creating an environment where sexist behaviors, sexual harassment and sexual assault are not tolerated, condoned or ignored.

    I can’t think of a better time to dust off the Army values, along with the Air Force Values — Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do — as well as the Navy and the Marine Corps values of Honor, Courage and Commitment.

    Our goal is a Defense Department free of sexual assault and sexual harassment built on dignity and respect for all.

    After all, America deserves better, and we are better than this.



    Date Taken: 03.24.2017
    Date Posted: 01.19.2018 18:32
    Story ID: 262644

    Web Views: 2,552
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