WHAT IS THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT’S STATUS IN CORRECTING THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

This past March 26th, Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, appointed Rear Admiral (two stars) Margaret “Peg” Klein as his Special Advisor for “…Military Professionalism”, basically with regard to ‘’Ethics, Character and Competence, in all activities, and at every level of Command”.  In that capacity, she reports directly to Secretary Hagel.  Admiral Klein also works with the various individual service Secretaries, as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

That’s quite a pretentious “Job Description”; but, I believe that Admiral Klein’s job was created to take some of the Heat off the Defense Department with regard to the on-going Sexual Harassment in the Military.   Since there appears to have the lack of reported accomplishments along these lines since then, I can only assume two things: Admiral Klein was directed to work within the existing Chains of Command–and perhaps is confronting roadblocks–and that her role is somewhat of a “CYA” (cover your ass) assignment, within the Defense Department.

In the past, Military Commanders appear to have been handling reports of Sexual Harassment offhandedly, similarly to how it is done in many Third-World Countries:  Blame the Victim!  Allegedly, only one-third of such Crimes are even reported and, in many cases, the Commanders have absolved the Perpetrators.  Sadder yet, in several cases, even General Officers have been found guilty of Sexual Harassment and given little more than a wrist slap as punishment.

For the past year or two, there has been a group of Female U.S. Senators–from both Parties--who have championed the need for stronger Legislation in Congress.  Senator Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY) has taken the lead on the Issue.  An article from the Washington Post reports the case of Air Force Captain Maribel Jarzabek, an attorney assigned to a new Special Victims Unit to represent victims of Sexual Assault, is linked as follows: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/air-force-captain-dissents-from-military-sex-assault-policy-and-commanders-take-notice/2014/12/30/9e95fa72-9051-11e4-a412-4b735edc7175_story.html?wpisrc=nl_politics&wpmm=1.

Captain Jarzabek cited, in a Comment on Sen. Hilibrand’s Facebook Page, that she agreed with the Bill, which was proposed regarding Sexual Harassment in the Military.  Although that Legislation had received a majority of Votes, it did not have the required 60 to clear a procedural hurdle.  In the Facebook Comment, Capt. Jarzabek suggests that the Defense Department claims that the Program is a Success, when it really isn’t.  She had been advised by Senior Officers that she was too client-oriented, and she believes that both she and her clients have been intimidated.  The link for her Comment is as follows: https://www.facebook.com/KirstenGillibrand/posts/10152666641558411.

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a person serving in uniform is subject to disciplinary action if they report problems outside of Military Channels, and especially if they take it to Congress.  Given the fact that reporting Cases of Sexual Harassment through Channels seems to have often been dismissed, the actual number of assaults are assumed to have been even much higher.  And now, with Captain Maribel Jarzabek’s assertion, she believes to have not been taken seriously–and perhaps even intimidated–for advocating for her Clients, as well.

It is time that all Reports of Sexual Harassment or Assault be taken out of the Command Structure.  There should be an external Reporting Structure for the respective Special Victims Units in the various Services, and going directly to the JAG (Judge Advocate General) Office at the Pentagon.  The Commanders should, however, be held accountable for what goes on under their Authority.  Annual Performance Reports should weigh such Statistics quite heavily, with future Assignments and Promotions partially based on them.  Commanders should also be disciplined accordingly for not following through.

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