leon panetta

'The Invisible War' Sheds Light on Epidemic of Rape in the Military

 from THE INVISIBLE WAR, a Cinedigm/Docurama Films release.

Lieutenant Elle Helmer at the Vietnam War Memorial, US Marine Corps, from THE INVISIBLE WAR, a Cinedigm/Docurama Films release.

Men and women in the military face numerous challenges when they return from combat—whether post-traumatic stress disorder, economic struggles, traumatic brain injury. A glimpse at the headlines tells us the grim statistics of active-duty suicides tied to these issues.

But a new film, The Invisible War, brings to light another staggering reality: a female soldier in a combat zone is more likely to be raped by another soldier than killed in enemy fire.

The Invisible War, which opens in some markets on June 22, takes on the military culture that has failed to address the problem.

Filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering collected stories from sexual assault survivors across the country and show how hauntingly similar their the accounts are—from harassment to assault to lack of follow-up, and for some, blatant cover up. The powerful documentary pairs the survivors’ heartbreaking stories with alarming statistics illustrating the scope of the epidemic. 

According to the Department of Defense, service members reported nearly 3,200 incidents of sexual assault in 2011.

Maintaining Military Superiority, Employment Drops

President Barack Obama made an unusual appearance in the Pentagon briefing room Thursday with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to release a new Defense Strategic Guidance, essentially the strategic plan for the U.S. military.  Recognizing the end of the war in Iraq and the pressure of deficit-driven budget cuts, the plan outlines a smaller and more focused military.

Meanwhile, December unemployment numbers out this morning, and show a drop to 8.5 percent.  That’s obviously good news, but don’t get overly excited.  The unemployment rate for minorities was virtually unchanged – 15.8 percent of African-Americans and 11 percent of Hispanics remain unemployed.  And the broader measure, including what are called “discouraged workers” – people who want to work but have stopped looking and those working part time because they can’t find a full time job – is 15.2 percent.http://www.twitter.com/dshankdc

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