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The US Navy is asking sailors, Marines, and civilians working for the military branch to complete a survey on sexual harassment, which has been ongoing and wraps up today. The confidential survey, which allows respondents to complete it anonymously, is being administered by the Department of the Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

Past studies indicate that approximately one percent of women in the Navy are raped each year, and another three to four percent experience some form of sexual assault. Most crimes are committed against junior-level female sailors, though men are also reported as victims of some sex crimes.

“The survey responses will help us gauge our progress and serve to guide our program adjustments for increased effectiveness at combating sexual assault department-wide,” said Rear Admiral Martha Herb, director of the Personal Readiness and Community Support Branch, in a news release by the Navy.

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Comments

MonkA Oct. 1, 2011 @ 8:19 a.m.

There is a travesty being committed against victims of sexual assault in the military, and yet our military leaders refuse to do anything about it.

Question 21 of the National Security Clearance questionnaire, which is required of all servicemembers seeking security clearances, asks whether or not a person has sought mental health counseling in the past 7 years. Grief, family and combat trauma counseling are excluded. Sexual assault is not.

This is especially appalling given that an estimated 1 in 4 female veterans are victims of sexual assault. Why would they be considered less trustworthy for being the victims of a crime? Though DoD officials shrug their shoulders and say these men and women will get their clearance "eventually, " they fail to see how the mere presence of the question discourages help seeking. First, there is the trauma and shame of the assault itself. Then, if she does get counseling, she must report it on the SF 86 or risk breaking federal law. This form goes up through her chain of command, and is followed up with an interview with an OPM investigator about the rape.

All the DoD has to do is issue a memo stating they consider sexual assault to be "grief counseling" but they stubbornly refuse to do so. I strongly believe that it is because combat trauma tends to happen to men, whereas sexual assault happens to women. This is a thinly veiled attempt to keep women from reporting and/or getting help, because doing so will endanger their clearance.

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Ruth Newell Oct. 1, 2011 @ 9 a.m.

My contention still stands, that until more male victims speak out, nothing will change. It's been estimated that for every male that reports having been sexually assaulted ten others similarly victimized don't.

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