This Independence Day we're celebrating a handful of advocates for change who appeared in our film: Ben Klay, Kori Cioca and Ariana Klay. Here they are with Vice Admiral Harward, the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, following a screening of THE INVISIBLE WAR at USCENTCOM's main headquarters on MacDill Air Force Base.
The group participated in a solution-focused conversation with some of the nation's most senior commanders, discussing leadership and how to improve the culture and overall experience for survivors of sexual assault within the military.
Vice Admiral Harward said, “It was an absolutely amazing session with the panel attended by Kori, Ariana and Ben. They had a captivated audience with over 20 flag officers [four stars down to one star] and thousands of others. The whole team was distinct, sharp and compelling."
Bravo to USCENTCOM for setting the standard by allowing an open engaging discussion with it's most senior leadership live in front of thousands of their subordinate leaders.
THE INVISIBLE WAR is up for this year's Independent Lens Audience Award! Can you help continue to spread the word and VOTE for us by clicking here?
It's been an incredible honor working with Independent Lens to push our film out to cities throughout America. Their support has helped reach and educate new audiences, engage new supporters and raise mass awareness - all in an effort to put an end to the epidemic of sexual assault military.
Can you help us keep the pressure on? Your action, your VOTE and audience awards like this make it crystal clear that we've got an army of advocates - outraged at the military's inaction on this issue.
Help us show the top brass that we're not backing down.
Voting is simple and will just take a minute, here's a quick "how to":
Thank you for your continued support and committed action to raise awareness and help us bring justice to the survivors of military sexual trauma who so deserve it. If we tell everybody, then it's not a secret.
You likely remember Ben Klay from THE INVISIBLE WAR. Seeing the movie for the first time was surreal but I will forever remember the moment that I saw Ben on camera talking about his incredible wife, Ariana, "this really sweet person who was trying really hard, and succeeding." Then, with tears in his eyes recounting a time after her assault when he came home to a suicide note and had to call the police with one hand while restraining Ariana from killing herself with the other.
Like Ariana, Ben also served on active duty in the United States Marines. He was deployed twice to Iraq, served in combat and left the Marines as a captain.
Yesterday, following the disappointing vote by the Senate Armed Services Committee to leave the decision to prosecute military sexual assault within the chain of command, Ben spoke to Don Franzen, the Los Angeles Book Review Legal Affairs Editor, about military sexual assault, judicial independence and tort liability in a statement directed to the Senate Armed Services Committee. The very group of lawmakers that opted to leave the "justice" system in it's current form - broken.
He includes an assessment of the causes and patterns of the U.S. military's mishandling of sexual offenses and his recommendations for what can be done about it.
In the past few weeks, the Pentagons top brass and lawmakers of every suit have called the epidemic of rape within our ranks everything from "cancer" to a "plague." But when given the option to take bold measures to eradicate these heinous crimes, the Senate all but looked the other way.
On Wednesday the Senate Armed Services Committee, led by it's chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), voted 17-9 to keep the current system of prosecuting assault cases in place. You know, the current broken system. Yes, the one that hasn't been working. The same one that swept 26,000 cases of sexual assaults under the rug last year alone.
Below are the 17 men and women who voted to keep the current system in place. Call them. If your Senator is listed below call him/her multiple times. Tell them to stop kowtowing to military brass and to start standing up for survivors of military rape. This is an institutionalized problem and it's going to require institutionalized reform.
It's crucial that we move the decision to prosecute military sexual assault outside of the chain of command.
Posted by Kirby Dick, Director, THE INVISIBLE War · June 04, 2013 10:09 AM
· 1 reaction
I'm in DC today where the Senate Armed Services Committee is holding the first full committee hearing on sexual assaults in the military in a decade. As I wrote in my Op-Ed in The New York Times, "Don't Trust the Pentagon to End Rape," this hearing comes after months of public revelations of rapes and other violent attacks at U.S. military bases and academies in our country and around the world. Today, chiefs of staff of the military branches will likely admit that there is a serious problem and insist that the solution involves changing military culture.
But the challenge goes far deeper.
This is our moment to make change. We've come to a head and after a year of sustained collective action, we've created a perfect storm environment that is ripe for serious change to be made. In my film, "The Invisible War," retired brigadier general, Loree K. Sutton, describes the military as a “target-rich environment” for serial predators. The training and leadership efforts the Pentagon proposes won’t change this environment. It simply isn’t possible to “train” or “lead” serial predators not to rape.
In order to make lasting change, we need to take the adjudication of military sexual assault out of the chain of command. That is the sole way to alter both policy and cultural change within the military. Sen Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has introduced a bi-partisan bicameral piece of legislation, the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), that would do just that. As I continue my efforts through film, through our social action campaign #NotInvisible, and through continued trips to Capitol Hill to attend important hearings such as the one taking place today, I hope you'll take a moment to call your Senators.Urge them to take action to end military rape by signing on to co-sponsor the MJIA.
I hope you take a minute to read my Op-Ed, "Don't Trust the Pentagon to End Rape," in the NYT, share it with a friend, and leave a comment. If everyone knows then it won't be a secret. You can read it by clicking here.
Thank you for your continued support and action. This has become a true grassroots movement spurring real, measurable change. We couldn't do it without you.
Posted by Trina, THE INVISIBLE War · June 03, 2013 4:25 PM
Tomorrow the US Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a full committee hearing on the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) and the other pending bills on military sexual assault.
Senator Gillibrand’s bill, the MJIA, is a chance to do what we know is right: move the decision to prosecute sexual assault outside of the military’s chain of command. Many of you have taken a stand for this kind of reform by signing my petition on MoveOn.org. If you have yet to do so, you can by clicking here.
I am traveling to Washington to deliver our petitions – more than 100,000! – to Senators on the Armed Services committee at tomorrow's hearing. I'm incredibly proud of how far we've come but I know in our fight for justice, the biggest milestones still lie ahead.
This morning, President Obama who has been publicly vocal about the epidemic of military sexual assault, addressed the issue in his commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Saying that, "...Those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that make our military strong. That’s why we have to be determined to stop these crimes, because they’ve got no place in the greatest military on Earth."
This weekend was transformative, to say the least. Certainly for me, but even for the hundreds of soldiers in the Ohio Army National Guard Battalion 1-174th, who tossed the sexual assault and prevention training manual out the window and instead chose to play THE INVISIBLE WAR during their mandatory annual training.
I had the best experience speaking with them afterwards - something I never thought would be a remote possibility. I wanted to share a note that I received from one of the Captains following the training. I can barely believe this is real.
Please read it and share it and know that each action you take to spread the word about this film, and the epidemic of military sexual assault is making a real difference. In Congress, at the Pentagon, for survivors, and even on military bases across the world - where we need it most. I had my doubts, but it really is true. Together, we are #NotInvisible.
26,000 men and women were raped last year while serving in the United States Armed Forces. That breaks down to 70 assaults every day. And now, two officers - including the head of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention program - have been arrested for the very crimes they’re supposed to prevent.
Enough is enough.
It’s time for serious changes to be made to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, moving the decision to investigate and prosecute sexual assault out of the chain of command. This morning, Senators Gillibrand, Collins, Boxer, Johanns, Begich, Blumenthal, Coons, Franken, Hirono, Mikulski, Pryor and Shaheen, as well as Representatives Gabbard, Benishek, Hanna, and Sinema, introduced new bicameral legislation to do just that.
This bill, the Military Justice Improvement Act, would also end commanders’ ability to overturn sexual assault convictions and instead give that discretion to experienced trial counsel.