Raising Awareness And Support For Male Victims Of Sexual Assault In The Military

Robert Hunter was raped in the Navy when he was 19, a memory he repressed for 32 years. When the memory returned, he drank heavily and endured mental health problems.

After receiving help from the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, he decided to build “something good from something horrible” and bring attention to men who are sexually assaulted in the military. The Connecticut veteran co-founded a national advocacy group called Men Recovering from Military Sexual Trauma (Mr. MST) because, he said, “male victims aren’t taken seriously.”

Hunter’s organization has spent the last three years raising awareness and lobbying for health care for military victims of sexual assault, meeting with top government decision makers, participating in White House policy discussions, speaking at events for military sexual assault victims and joining women survivors in advocating for removing the prosecution of military sexual assault from the chain of command. In the military, where men comprise 85 percent of the population, more men than women are sexually assaulted. The most recent Pentagon estimates show 10,600 men and 9,600 women were assaulted in 2014, representing 1 percent of active duty men and 4.9 percent of women.

Report Raps Army For Not Monitoring Psychiatric Medication Use

The Army is not properly monitoring the prescribing of medications to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in active-duty soldiers to ensure that antipsychotics and sedatives are not being used, a new government report says. The report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommends that the Secretary of Defense direct the Army to monitor prescribing practices in order to detect medications that are discouraged under PTSD treatment guidelines. Those guidelines caution against the use of antipsychotics and benzodiazepines, a class of sedatives, because of their ineffectiveness and potential risk. “The Army does not monitor the prescribing of medications to treat PTSD on an ongoing basis,” says the report, led by the GAO’s director of health care, Debra Draper. “Without such monitoring, the Army may be unable to identify and address practices that are inconsistent with the guideline.”

The Department of Defense did not dispute the GAO recommendations, but argued that it has worked to reduce antipsychotic prescribing.

Blumenthal Asks President To Change Military’s Pre-Trial Process In Sex Assault Cases

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and two colleagues have asked the Obama administration to change the military’s pre-trial process in sexual assault cases, saying it allows victims to be questioned in an  “intimidating and degrading” manner, resulting in “a major chilling effect on sexual assault reporting.”

Blumenthal, a Democrat, and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), wrote to President Barack Obama, in the wake of pre-trial hearings in a case where three former U.S.Naval Academy football players are accused of sexually assaulting a female academy midshipman. In the hearings, the woman was cross- examined for some 30 hours about such topics as her sexual practices and her underwear. The three lawmakers wrote in their letter that they were “shocked and alarmed” to learn that such questions are allowed in the process, formally called Article 32 in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Citing legal experts, they said the questioning would not be permitted in any civilian court and constitutes “unabashed abuse.”  They asked the Obama administration to immediately change the system to conform to Federal Court procedures. Article 32 is used to determine if there is probable cause for a case to go a court-martial trial.  It differs from a civilian procedure such as a Federal Grand Jury in a number of ways, including that it is public, permits the defendant to be present, and allows extensive questioning of the accuser by the defense attorney.  A Grand Jury is conducted in closed session and with participation restricted to presentation of evidence by the prosecution.