Marching in Silence


Ashley Reiter

Ashley Reiter during her basic military training.

Cameron Brown, Staffwriter

“You save yourself or you remain unsaved.” author Alice Sebold said.

According to the United States Department of Defense (DOD), there were 6,290 allegations of sexual misconduct/rape in 2020 in all branches of the military combined. With the rising cases of sexual misconduct in the armed forces, many have felt silenced by their peers, superiors, friends, and even family members. Many are unable or unwilling to get the support and medical attention they truly need and feel silenced by the consequences their peers have experienced in the past.

Many programs have been created to combat the rise in sexual assault. Distrust in the ranks has some doubting their commitment to serving their country. The threat of discipline and discharge has led many to be silenced and fear for their safety. The backlash and lack of trust from alleged sexual assault victims have the military’s recruiting at a low in the 21st century.

The Pentagon has tried to combat the rising sexual assault by implementing many different programs. One course is called SAPR (Sexual Assault Prevent and Response). SAPR is one of the many attempts the military has made to combat sexual assault, but it still remains rising in many branches. According to 2020 Bullitt East graduate, Ashley Reiter, who went on after graduation to join the Navy as an Aviation Electronic Technician and who experienced sexual harassment firsthand in basic training said, “We go through a course called SAPR and do it once a year. The day that we had the course there were guys making inappropriate gestures to people which made us uncomfortable.” These gestures and actions have left some with doubts about serving.

Many people join the military as a way to gain experience and learn in ways no other jobs can provide. But with rising cases of military sexual assault, some feel that their commitment is not worth the risk. According to a study conducted by the DOD, 1 in 4 survivors of either sexual assault or sexual harassment/discrimination took steps to leave the military as a result. The rise in MST (Military Sexual Trauma) and perceived sexual misconduct has further decreased military recruiting and re-recruiting efforts across the United States and left victims with trauma, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental and physical problems.

With a lack of trust from potential candidates for military service, the military is seeking to change the public view on sexual assault to increase recruiting for the coming years. Through policies like Safe-to-Report, which eliminates barriers for service members to report alleged sexual assault and other misconduct in their ranks.