April 2011

Reps. Tsongas and Turner Introduce Legislation to Target Sexual Assault in the Military


Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (MA-D)
April 13, 2011

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (MA-5) and Congressman Mike Turner (OH-3) and today introduced the Defense Sexual Trauma Response, Oversight and Good Governance Act (The Defense STRONG Act). This bipartisan legislation would expand legal rights and protections for service members who have been the victims of sexual assault. Among its main provisions, the legislation would provide victims with the right to legal counsel, the right to a base transfer, maintain confidentiality when speaking with Victim Advocates, and provide greater training for sexual assault prevention and response at every level of our armed services.

Recent studies have revealed that as many as 1 in 3 women leaving military service report that they have experienced some form of Military Sexual Trauma. By the Pentagon’s own estimate, as few as 13.5% of sexual assaults are reported. Additionally, while 40% of sexual assault allegations in the civilian world are prosecuted, this number is a staggeringly low 8% in the military.

“We ask our men and women in uniform who serve in the military to put their lives on the line for our country, and they shouldn’t fear or experience harm from their fellow soldiers,” said Congresswoman Tsongas. “While the military has made strides to address sexual assault in the ranks, victims still report a lack of confidentiality, protection, support, and access to legal counsel once an incident is reported. The Defense STRONG Act addresses many of these shortcomings with current DOD policy and I look forward to working with Congressman Turner and our colleagues on the Armed Services Committee to ensure these important provisions become law.”

To read the full story at  Congresswoman Tsongas’ web site, click here.

Protesters demonstrate against US military bases on Okinawa. The Japanese government faces opposition to plans to keep US troops on the island. Photo: AP

Second Battle of Okinawa Looms as China’s Naval Ambition Grows

Pacific island is home to 34 US military bases and focus of escalating tension between Japan and China

David Hearst
March 7, 2011

In a whitewashed bunker cut into the limestone of the southern tip of the island of Okinawa, the headquarters of the Imperial Japanese Navy prepared to make its last stand.

In June 1945, in one of the last, blood-soaked spasms of the second world war, a quarter of the civilian population died as US troops stormed the island.

Inside the bunker, imperial army troops pulled the pins of their grenades rather than surrender. One corner of the tunnel is peppered with shrapnel marks. The Japanese script on the wall still carries the defiant message: “American soldier Pigs! We will soon turn the battle around. Then we will reduce your numbers.” It frequently gets lost in translation. “We cover it up when the Americans come round here,” the guide said.

Today the island chain finds itself at the centre of a second battle of Okinawa. The military threat comes from China, intent on securing its sea lanes and pushing back America’s naval power into the Pacific.

To read the full story at the guardian.co.uk, click here.

Ex-Marine Linked to 2009 Death of Navy Sailor


Emily Babay
The Washington Examiner
March 20, 2011


Amanda J. Snell was a 20-year-old Navy intelligence specialist and a youth minister at an Alexandria church when she was found dead in her Henderson Hall barracks room in Arlington in July 2009.

More than a year and half later, prosecutors are preparing to charge a former Marine corporal with a violent past in her death, according to Snell’s mother and a law enforcement source.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia says it plans to charge Jorge A. Torrez in the case, Snell’s mother, Cynthia, told The Washington Examiner.

A prosecutor with the attorney’s office told her Torrez was a Marine, Cynthia Snell said, and only one Jorge A. Torrez exists in military service records, according to the office of Manpower and Reserve Affairs. A law enforcement source confirmed that federal authorities are pursuing Torrez in the Snell case.

To read the full story at the Washington Examiner, click here.


Assault Victims Raise Clearance Concerns


Sexual trauma counseling must be described in full on standard questionnaire

Rick Maze
Military Times
April 4, 2011

Military sexual assault victims applying for or renewing security clearances must report any counseling received for sexual trauma, revealing intimate details to background investigators — and risking their clearance status as a result of their answers.

Cynthia Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said sexual trauma counseling received in the previous seven years indeed must be reported, but it should not hurt a career. “It is highly unlikely that any mental health counseling, in and of itself, would result in the denial or revocation of a clearance,” she said.

Smith did not address the issue of privacy; she stressed this was not a Defense Department policy, but one that applies throughout the federal government.

For sexual assault victims, the requirement to report counseling is especially galling because the government decided in 2008 that service members receiving mental health counseling for combat-related mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress, do not have to report their treatment.

To read the full story in the Military Times, click here.

Colonel Ann Wright
in San Diego


Students for Justice in Palestine, SDSU invites you to an Event with Colonel Ann Wright!
Wednesday, April 6th, 7pm-9pm

Hepner Hall 100
San Diego State University

The San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice invites you to an Event with Colonel Ann Wright! Thursday, April 7th, 7pm-9pm

Church of the Brethren
3850 Westgate Place
San Diego, CA 92105

Colonel Ann Wright (Ret.) is an American peace activist who spent thirteen years in the U.S. Army and sixteen additional years in the Army Reserves, retiring as a Colonel.

On March 19, 2003, the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Ann Wright cabled a letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell, stating that without the authorization of the UN Security Council, the invasion and occupation of a Muslim, Arab, oil-rich country would be …a violation of international law. Since then, she has been writing and speaking out for peace. She fasted for a month, picketed at Guantánamo, served as a juror in impeachment hearings, traveled to Iran as a citizen diplomat, and has been arrested numerous times for peaceful, nonviolent protest of Bush’s policies, particularly the war on Iraq.

Ann Wright has been on delegations to Iran and was in Gaza three times in 2009, following the Israeli attack on Gaza that killed 1,440 and wounded 5,000. She was an organizer for the Gaza Freedom March that brought 1,350 persons from 44 countries to Cairo, Egypt, in solidarity with the people of Gaza. She was on the May, 2010 Gaza flotilla that was attacked by the Israeli military. She is an organizer for the US Boat to Gaza which will be a part of the next Gaza flotilla that is scheduled to sail in May, 2011.

Ann Wright and Susan Dixon co-authored, Dissent: Voices of Conscience which tells the stories of those who have risked their careers and reputations to speak out against the war against Iraq.

For more information contact Lynn at
San Diego Military Counseling Project
www.sdmcp.org 619-280-3586

Living Along the Fenceline


San Francisco Film Screening with Music, Food, Speakers

Thursday April 14, 2011

Living Along the Fenceline tells the stories of 7 remarkable women who live alongside U.S. military bases. They are teachers, organizers, and healers, moved by love and respect for the land, and hope for the next generation. From San Antonio (Texas) to Vieques (Puerto Rico), Hawai’, Guam, Okinawa, South Korea, and the Philippines, this film inspires hope and action.


To see the trailer of the film, visit http://alongthefenceline.com/.

Delancy Street Foundation Screening Room
600 Embarcadero St. San Francisco, CA
Thursday April 14, 2011
Doors Open 6:30 PM

Sliding Scale $5 – $15    No one turned away.

For more information, visit http://www.genuinesecurity.org


info [at] genuinesecurity [dot] org       (415) 312-5583

A Project to Prevent
Sexual Assault in the Military


From the Operation Believe web site…

“What is this? Why did we feel the need to start such a project?

On February 15, 2011, seventeen service members and veterans filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon saying that servicemen get away with rape and other sexual abuse and victims are too often ordered to continue to serve alongside those they say attacked them. If being raped was not bad enough what happened after reporting the assault is just mind boggling.”

Read the 110-Things-to-Prevent-Sexual-Assault
you can do at Operation Believe.


“If I told them that my house was broken into not one person would question me, blame me or say that I am lying, but when I say that my body was broken into people automatic feel that they have the right to judge me, doubt me and blame me.”

Survivors of military sexual trauma are often met with disbelief after reporting the assault. Many survivors report being told that they are at fault or did something to provoke an assault. What were you wearing and why did you go out drinking? They are often questioned on their motives on reporting the assault-Are you trying to ruin a man’s career?

Military sexual trauma is a readiness issue that affects every single person in the United States Armed Forces. It is also the responsibility of everyone from the private or non-rate to the General and Admirals to promote a culture that won’t tolerate sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape and the re-victimization of survivors that report abuse.

To visit the Operation Believe web site to learn more about the project and how you can take part, click here.

Marcia Lippman / Gallery Stock

The Military’s Secret Shame

Jesse Ellison
April 3, 2011

Greg Jeloudov was 35 and new to America when he decided to join the Army. Like most soldiers, he was driven by both patriotism for his adopted homeland and the pragmatic notion that the military could be a first step in a career that would enable him to provide for his new family. Instead, Jeloudov arrived at Fort Benning, Ga., for basic training in May 2009, in the middle of the economic crisis and rising xenophobia. The soldiers in his unit, responding to his Russian accent and New York City address, called him a “champagne socialist” and a “commie faggot.”

He was, he told NEWSWEEK, “in the middle of the viper’s pit.” Less than two weeks after arriving on base, he was gang-raped in the barracks by men who said they were showing him who was in charge of the United States. When he reported the attack to unit commanders, he says they told him, “It must have been your fault. You must have provoked them.”

To read the full article at Newsweek, click here.


Contact Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) for information on the Military Rape Litigation filled on behalf of military and former military victims of Military Sexual Trauma (MST), including persons who were raped by their military colleagues.

The Military’s Rape and Sexual Assault Epidemic


Antoinette Bonsignore, RH Reality Check
April 3, 2011

On February 15, 2011, fifteen female and two male military veterans filed a class action lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and current Defense Secretary Robert Gates. A second round of plaintiffs will likely be announced in early April. These veterans have charged the defendants with the wholesale and systematic failure to protect servicemembers from being oftentimes repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted while serving in the military; and with a failure to investigate and subsequently prosecute and punish perpetrators.

The complaint reads like a horror story. One gruesome account after another detailing brutal assaults; sometimes repeated and sometimes committed by multiple perpetrators. Rapes and sexual assaults that are ignored and if not ignored so callously prosecuted within the Military Code of Justice as to suggest that rape is nothing more than a minor infraction deserving of little punishment, if any. A system set up to hide evidence, encourage victims to recant, and when the victim tries to receive some semblance of justice they are generally rewarded with demotions, harassment, and shockingly further rapes and sexual assaults as punishment. Victims are warned to stay quiet or face dire consequences. The brave victims are blamed – the women in particular were just asking for it.

To read the full article at truthout.org, click here.

Click! Rape Should Not Be a Requirement to Serve


Panayiota Bertzikis
Ms. Blog
April 1, 2011

I grew up oblivious to gender inequality. As a child of the ’80s/’90s I never felt gender prevented me from doing what I wanted to do. I grew up playing sports, doing things that may have been traditionally “for boys,” and being told that any career option was open to me. I eventually chose to enlist in the United States Coast Guard.

To read the full story at the Ms. Blog, click here.