By Diana Danis
Service: Women Who Serve
Civilians used to hang out on Army posts and Air Force bases in the evenings and on weekends, enjoying the clubs, baseball and football skirmishes.
They would go to overlooks and observe military training, watch planes take off and sky-divers earn their wings.
Terrorism changed the relationship with America and its men and women in uniform, where they live, how they live and how they engage with the world they’ve chosen.
Americans pay for all of this, and without watchful overseers able to observe their investment, things start unraveling. And indeed the seams are tearing.
We have been at war nearly two decades and everything that used to revolve around training and keeping everything maintained, has been redirected to deployment.
Taking care of troops, their housing, their health, their teeth, their families, their safety, their gear, their living environment, has all shifted to deploy, deploy, deploy.
Being ready 24/7 means normal things impact readiness: a motorcycle accident, appendicitis, removal of wisdom teeth, a pregnancy, mandatory annual training in any number of things, death of a family member, a suicide in the ranks. All of these impact deployability.
Today’s world is bigger though. It means sexism, racism, homophobia and religious intolerance along with buckets of straight-up hate are thrown into the mix. Now, the already strained world of functioning in the home station and going to war are overwhelming.
Too much is piled on and leadership has become toxic just by trying to be war-ready all the time.
If you’ve got 100 people and circumstances take out eight of them, and one accuses another of sexual assault, you are one person away from the unit staying back in an emergency deployment.
This is exactly when safety and security goes down the drain.
Bad leadership usually arrives in a convoy of good intentions.
And so we circle back to the usual suspects: sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, racism. Hating who someone else loves or worships.
Across the services, it has all blown up. Facilities are more run down and so is morale. Suicides are up. Folks who are about to wrap up their time and go home, go missing and no one looks for them, they just mark them AWOL.
We need civilians and a bright shiny new moral compass wrapped in a new piece of legislation, just for starters.
The “I Am Vanessa Guillen Act of 2020” is a legislative bill created to address various forms of sexual harassment and assault in the military. The bipartisan bill was inspired by the Fort Hood soldier, Vanessa Guillen, who was killed by a fellow soldier this year, amidst sexual harassment allegations. The creation of a confidential reporting system for sexual harassment is one of the reforms in the bill.
Please call your Congress members and Senators and ask them to co-sponsor the bipartisan “I Am Vanessa Guillen Act of 2020” and vote for it.
If you really love our military, make it safer to serve. This bill will help.