IVAW statement of solidarity with survivors of Military Sexual Trauma
Service Members have a Right to Heal
As veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we stand in solidarity with survivors of military sexual trauma (MST), which includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.
Sexual abuse is an epidemic stretching across all branches of service and affects both men and women. As veterans we've experienced firsthand the attacks and abuse, degradation of survivors, and a systematic refusal by commanders to seek justice in these cases.
We find the military’s blatant disregard for survivors of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) to be unacceptable and atrocious. Thousands of service members are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, making the greatest sacrifices to carry out military duties. On top of the stress and danger of deploying to a war zone, many service members face the threat of rape, assault and harassment from within their own ranks.
We cannot as a nation ignore this morally abhorrent behavior. Survivors of MST are victimized first by the perpetrator, and then often are re-traumatized by their command and military leadership who are aware of the problem, yet allow it to persist and attack the victim for speaking up.
Those who would vilify survivors and participate in victim blaming not only demonstrate disdain for human rights, but also create the culture that allows this abuse to continue. Military leaders who choose to ignore or purposely mishandle MST cases should be considered accessories to rape.
The United States military praises service members in rhetoric and violates their human rights in reality. Service members have a right to heal. Service members must no longer tolerate being systematically abused and forced to endure some of the most horrifying conditions imaginable.
With the support of the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), seventeen US veterans have filed a class-action lawsuit against Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor Donald Rumsfeld. We support the veterans and service members that have filed suit for mishandling of sexual assault and rape cases.
We are veterans, women and men who have served, and we stand in support of MST survivors - those who have filed suit and the thousands of others, many of whom still remain silent. We demand that they receive justice and that the military acts now to stop MST and other preventable abuses of service members.
We would like to thank SWAN for taking on this work with such commitment. Learn more about the lawsuit on SWAN’s website: http://servicewomen.org/our-work/litigation/military-rape-litigation/.
Send mail using your own address book.