Sexual assault in the armed forces

12/18/2013 5:31 PM

12/18/2013 5:32 PM

I’m happy that during my 20 years in the Navy I didn’t serve with a Dave King, writer of a Sunday letter, “Floating brothels.”

Women have been part of the U.S. armed forces since World War II. King’s chagrin over having women in the services is lamentable, and how he ever became a recruiter needs re-examination.

The increasing number of women in the armed forces is a result of a changing society and no draft since 1975.

My experience with women I served with during my 20 years was very satisfactory, with no sexual expectations or innuendos allowed as a part of the work environment. We were all professional in our work and relationships.

The present administration has had no part in increasing the number of women in the services or political correctness in the crime of rape. Maybe in King’s mind, when a woman says “no” it means “yes,” but to the rest of us it means “no.”

There are no “floating brothels” in the Navy. I will not comment on his views regarding gays in the military as that has always been a part of the military experience.

— Robert Terry, retired senior chief petty officer, U.S. Navy, Fort Worth

I’ve always believed that the letters section of newspapers provided a forum for polite, informed discussion about important issues.

After reading Dave King’s letter, “Floating brothels,” I realize that I must be very wrong about polite, informed discussion. King’s letter was simply a bigoted, uninformed rant.

— Nesha Morey, Arlington

Women who enlist for military duty during wartime knowingly put themselves in harm’s way. Duty should never include rape.

Dave King, a retired Air Force master sergeant, had a problem with a Doonesbury comic strip and spewed forth reasons why rape is now the reality and inevitable, because there are way too many females in the military and it’s all President Obama’s fault.

He apparently sees reporting of rape as part of the cancer of political correctness. His letter defied all decency.

While he was on active duty in the 1990s, comments like these may have been tolerated.

Not so today.

A number of GOP senators lost their seats during the last election because of offensive rape comments. It may have cost Republicans the presidency as women carried the vote.

Sen. John McCain stated that he would not want a daughter to join the military because the commanders are not aligned with the current epidemic of sexual assault.

Thankfully, Dave King is no longer in a position of military authority. If he was so grievously offended by the message in Doonesbury, he should not malign our women in combat — just stop reading the comic strip.

— Priscilla Keifer, Grapevine

So King was grievously offended by a comic strip?

You, sir, are a grievously offensive cartoon. And to think this is the sort of person we are supposed to thank for his service? No thank you.

— Merriann Lanford, Benbrook

King doesn’t have a clue about the depth of the sexual trauma problems in the military. I had the privilege of working for the last 12 years with the victims, male and female, of military sexual trauma (MST), and I can assure him that there are no more “false” reports of MST than there are of other crimes (less than 5 percent).

Garry Trudeau’s strip was also accurate, as often the perpetrator of MST is the service member’s supervisor or is in his/her chain of command.

In 2012, there were more than 26,000 reports of MST, with only a limited number of convictions.

As for Navy ships being “floating brothels,” I am deeply offended for my veterans — many of whom were raped on Navy ships because there is no escape from perpetrators on ships.

However, the MST victims represent all the services, from World War II to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in all settings — peacetime and wartime.

King should apologize to these MST victims and watch the documentary The Invisible War to educate himself and see the true cost of military sexual trauma.

— Susan B. Avery, retired MST coordinator for the Veterans Health Administration’s North Texas Clinic, Fort Worth

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