The recent tragedy at Fort Hood brings back to focus our concern for military veterans. Fort Hood gunman Ivan Lopez, suffered from mental illness, and he was on medications that many experts believe contribute to violent behavior. Many of the people who have committed mass murder in America were on these same drugs that are referred to as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRI.
I have done a number of shows over the years asking military experts why there are so many people coming back from combat with debilitating conditions such as PTSD. I have been told that multiple deployments could be part of the reason. Others state the delay in getting our returning veterans timely help and service is a contributing factor. Others point to the stress of the job market and the resultant inability to easily reintegrate into society. Another consideration would be the mental status of the troops before they were deployed! All of these explanations seem reasonable and surely they help us understand this troubling phenomenon. However, upon further research I stumbled across a story that has, for the most part, been buried away from public discourse.
One of America’s darkest secrets has to do with sexual abuse in the military- more specifically, the sexual abuse of men. Yes, you read that right. Stories about women being sexually abused while serving in our armed forces, which is in itself a national disgrace, make the news quite frequently, but the untold story is that men are more likely than women to be the victim of sex abuse while serving in uniform.
A report issued by the US Department of Defense indicated that some 12,000 women in the US were sexually assaulted in 2012, most of those women were the victims of male attackers. But, in this same year, there were reports of 14,000 attacks on men, with the vast majority being male on male attacks. The number of attacks on both men and women are believed to be under-reported. The sad truth here is that some of the diagnosis of PTSD, depression, alcoholism and drug abuse, not to mention suicide, is not stemming from combat related stresses but sexual assaults!
Some of the attacks on men are related to bullying and hazing, not necessarily sexual in nature, however, the shame and trauma caused by the incidents mars the victims just the same. After all, the purpose is to humiliate and emasculate the victims. Gender expectations being what they are, men are expected to fend off an attack and their inability to do that just adds to the feelings of shame, regret, embarrassment and humiliation. Very few men are willing to report these attacks, meaning they end up receiving little to no treatment for what is at the root of their problems. Further, research indicates that the military is even less likely to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of male on male sexual assaults.
The continuing fallout of America’s sexual revolution? There are more victims of sexual assault in Afghanistan than combat related injuries.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.