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Perspectives: PBS Digital Library of Veteran and Military Stories of Service

Friday, April 12, 2024 | Category: History/Heritage - International

PBS offers a digital library of veteran stories reflecting on generations past and present.

Search “veteran” or “military” on the PBS site to view their complete digital library.

National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month April 2024

Sunday, April 7, 2024 | Category: Sexual Harassment/Assault/Trauma - International

The month of April is “National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.” Sexual assault and harassment remain systemically prevalent in many United States organizations, agencies, and institutions including the United States military.  Long-term prevention measures are needed to effect socio-cultural attitudinal change as well as ensure safe federal government work environments where employees can report incidences without fear of reprisal and/or retaliation and receive just knowledgeable and legal representation.

This link includes extensive “Military Sexual Assault” and “Military Sexual Trauma’” references.

This ongoing campaign intends to raise public awareness about sexual violence in our nation and its prevalence within federal, state, public, and private organizations, agencies, institutions, businesses, and societal subcultures.

Biden Implements Sweeping Changes to How the Military Handles Sexual Assault Cases

Sunday, July 30, 2023 | Category: Sexual Harassment/Assault/Trauma - International

On July 28, 2023, NPR’s Bill Chappell reported:

President Biden signed an executive order Friday implementing sweeping changes to the military justice system's handling of sexual assault cases. The reforms, which won bipartisan approval in Congress, remove serious criminal cases from victims' chain of command and instead place the cases under the authority of trained prosecutors.

"Sexual assault cases in the military have been plagued with concerns from victims who fear coming forward to see prosecutions led by their own commander," as NPR reported last December. "Overall, a very low share of such cases go to trial or see convictions."

House passes defense bill that includes proposal to combat sexual assault in military
House passes defense bill that includes proposal to combat sexual assault in military
The reform effort was led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who has long pushed for changes in how the U.S. military handles sexual assault cases as well as other serious crimes, including domestic violence, child abuse and murder.

It had been up to commanding officers to decide whether to prosecute such cases. But military prosecutors will now make those decisions, rather than commanders.

"While it will take time to see the results of these changes, these measures will instill more trust, professionalism, and confidence in the system," Gillibrand said in a statement sent to NPR.

White House Briefing Room Statement: President Biden Signs Historic Military Sexual Assault Reforms

Sunday, July 30, 2023 | Category: Sexual Harassment/Assault/Trauma - National

FACT SHEET: President Biden to Sign Executive Order Implementing Bipartisan Military Justice Reforms

July 28, 2023

The White House

Today, President Biden will sign an Executive Order to implement historic, bipartisan military justice reforms that significantly strengthen how the military handles sexual assault cases. The Executive Order transfers key decision-making authorities from commanders to specialized, independent military prosecutors in cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, murder, and other serious offenses by amending the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

These changes, which implement reforms passed by Congress in the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (FY22 NDAA), represent the most significant transformation of the military justice system since the UCMJ was established in 1950. The historic reforms announced today will better protect victims and ensure prosecutorial decisions are fully independent from the chain of the command. They follow decades of tireless efforts by survivors, advocates, and Members of Congress, to strengthen the military justice system’s response to gender-based violence and build on recommendations from the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military (IRC), which Secretary Austin established at President Biden’s direction as one of his earliest acts in office.

These reforms are a turning point for survivors of gender-based violence in the military. They fulfill President Biden’s promise to fundamentally shift how the military justice system responds to sexual assault and related crimes, which is something President Biden has prioritized since Day One of this administration. Ending gender-based violence wherever it occurs has been a top priority for the President throughout his career—as a Senator, and as Vice President. As Commander in Chief, he’s made clear that our one truly sacred obligation as a nation is to prepare and equip those we send into harm’s way, and to care for them and their families both while they are deployed and when they return home. The reforms implemented through today’s Executive Order do just that, promoting dignity and respect for those who serve by better protecting our servicemembers and making the military safer and more just.

Today’s Executive Order takes important action to reform our military justice system by amending the Manual for Courts-Martial and its accompanying Rules for Courts-Martial including by:

Establishing the rules that will govern the new Offices of Special Trial Counsel (OSTC), the independent military prosecutors who will now decide, in the place of commanders, whether to prosecute covered offenses such as sexual assault and domestic violence, child abuse, and murder;

Making clear that prosecutorial decisions made by special trial counsel are binding and fully independent from the chain of command;

Delineating the relationship and authorized interactions between special trial counsel and commanders to protect the independence of special trial counsel;

Modernizing procedures to better protect victims and promote fairness before, during and after court-martial proceedings;
Reforming the court-martial sentencing system to promote uniformity and fairness, as recommended by the IRC, to reduce disparities in sentencing in cases of rape and sexual assault; and

Creating a uniform evidence standard for non-judicial punishment actions, which the IRC highlighted as critical to make consistent across the military services given that most sexual misconduct cases are handled by nonjudicial punishment rather than courts-martial.

This month also marks two years since the IRC published its final report, outlining recommendations to improve accountability, prevention, climate and culture, and victim care and support. Today’s Executive Order advances the IRC’s core accountability recommendations and builds on the progress that has already been made by the Department of Defense in implementing the IRC’s more than 80 recommendations, including:

Establishing the Offices of Special Trial Counsel. In July 2022, with direction from Secretary Austin, the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, including the Space Force, established and staffed their OSTCs to assume authority for prosecutorial decisions for covered offenses including sexual assault and domestic violence at the end of 2023. Beginning January 1, 2025, special trial counsel prosecutorial authority will expand to include sexual harassment cases.

Hiring, Training, and Empowering the Prevention Workforce. Consistent with the IRC’s recommendation to establish a dedicated prevention workforce with public health expertise, the Department of Defense launched a phased approach to hiring a primary prevention workforce with 2,000 skilled professionals who will promote the health of their military community and work with leaders to change policies and implement prevention activities. In December 2022, the Department of Defense released guidance for this new workforce, and hiring and onboarding is underway at installations around the world.

Strengthening and Professionalizing the Sexual Assault Response Workforce. The Department of Defense, in collaboration with the Military Services and National Guard has adopted a comprehensive approach to restructuring, professionalizing, strengthening, and resourcing for the sexual assault response workforce. This includes moving Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs) and Victim Advocates (VAs) from the command reporting structure, and generally eliminating collateral duty for SARCs and VAs. This standardized approach across the Department of Defense is nearing completion.

Improving the Military’s Response to Domestic Violence and Sexual Harassment. Recognizing sexual assault can overlap with other forms of gender-based violence, the IRC recommended ways to improve accountability and support to survivors of domestic violence and sexual harassment. The Administration has:

Reissued and revised the Defense Department’s domestic abuse policy in December 2021. Key updates include expanding eligibility for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program services to domestic violence survivors who have experienced sexual assault;
Tracked the prevalence of domestic abuse/intimate partner-related sexual assault by collecting information on the victim-perpetrator relationship in the Workplace and Gender Relations Surveys of Active-Duty Members (WGRA), and Workplace and Gender Relations Surveys of Reserve Component Members (WGRR);

Expanded victim advocate services, reporting options and support to survivors of sexual harassment, through new guidance issued by the Department of Defense in September 2022. This guidance has been implemented across all Military Departments;

Starting with the Navy and the Marine Corps, issued policies for the independent investigation of sexual harassment reports, moving these investigations outside the chain of command of both the individual reporting sexual harassment and the alleged offender. The Department of Defense is working to develop a comprehensive approach to address this issue across all Military Departments; and

Amended the Manual for Courts-Martial through an Executive Order in January 2022 that established sexual harassment as a specific offense under the UCMJ, strengthening the military justice response in prosecuting cases of domestic violence, and implementing changes to the UCMJ to criminalize the wrongful broadcast or distribution of intimate visual images.

Independence Day & the Statue of Liberty

Tuesday, July 4, 2023 | Category: History/Heritage - National

4th of July U.S. Census Bureau "Facts for Features"

Statue of Liberty
The statue's original name was Liberty Enlightening the World.  The statue was given to the United States by the French as a centennial gift in honor of the 100-year anniversary of the July 4, 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence.  The statue arrived in 1885 and in 1886 it was dedicated, ten years after the anniversary.

What does the Statue of Liberty represent?  She is a symbol of the ideals of friendship between nations, freedom from tyranny and oppression, and new beginnings for peoples around the world. 

Emma Lazarus wrote the famous 1883 sonnet which since the early 1900s, is on a bronze plaque in the statue's pedestal.

                 The New Colossus 

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

June is PTSD Awareness Month: Resources for Veterans

Thursday, June 1, 2023 | Category: Mental Health - National

The Department of Veterans Affairs hosts the “National Center for PTSD,” a national resource for research, treatments and connections to assist individuals experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other traumatic stress. This site offers information for veterans, caregivers, family and friends.

ALS Awareness Month of May: Military/Veterans at Greater Risk of Developing ALS

Saturday, May 27, 2023 | Category: Health Care - International

The ALS Association’s Defense Health Research Programs office reported:

‘The ALS Association has developed a report, “ALS in the Military: Unexpected Consequences of Military Service,” that details the numerous studies that have been conducted which have found that:

Military veterans, regardless of the branch of service, regardless of the era in which they served, and regardless of whether they served during a time of peace or a time of war, are at a greater risk of dying from ALS than if they had not served in the military. The full report is available on The ALS Association’s website, www.alsa.org/Military and includes reviews of numerous studies, reports, and other evidence demonstrating the link between ALS and military service.’

ALS Awareness Month of May: ALS in the Military...Unexpected Consequences of Military Service

Friday, May 5, 2023 | Category: Health Care - National

On April 11, 2019, the ALS Association released a report, “ALS in the Military: Unexpected Consequences of Military Service,” including reviews of numerous studies, reports, and other evidence demonstrating the link between ALS and military service. In summary:

‘Existing evidence supports the conclusion that people who have served in the military are at a greater risk of developing ALS and dying from the disease than those with no history of military service. As outlined in this paper, study after study continues to demonstrate this to be true: If you serve in the military, regardless of the branch of service, regardless of whether you served in the Persian Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea, or World War II, and regardless of whether you served during a time of peace or a time of war, you are at a greater risk of dying from ALS than if you had not served in the military. The questions we are asking today are these: Why is there a greater risk of ALS with military service? And what are we, as a nation, going to do about it?

It is the goal of The ALS Association that this paper raise awareness of the important work that so far has been done on the relationship between ALS and military service. In this effort, we hope to impress upon the Congress, the Administration and the American public the seriousness of this issue and the need to act now.’

In 2008, the VA implemented regulations to establish a “presumption of service connection” for ALS. Under the regulation, the VA presumes that ALS in military veterans was incurred or aggravated by a veteran’s service in the military. Veterans diagnosed with ALS are rated 100% disabled by the VA through an expedited claims process, understanding the fast progression of the disease and the need for medical equipment and services. The disabled veteran and their survivors are eligible for “service connected” benefits.

The month of May is “ALS Awareness Month,” providing an opportunity to better understand what is known about the disease and how to help afflicted veterans and others as well as their families. A reputable starting point is the ALS Association (http://www.alsa.org/search/search.jsp?query=ALS+Military&Image2.x=0&Image2.y=0).

Women’s History Month

Saturday, March 25, 2023 | Category: History/Heritage - International

Every year in March, women’s continuing national and international contributions are studied, recognized and celebrated around the globe.

Go Red for Women: National Heart Month

Wednesday, February 1, 2023 | Category: Health Care - National

February is the national campaign month to raise awareness about women's heart health.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women with and without military service. Please click on link for more information.

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