Lifting the Veil – A Hard Truth

United States Flag by Mimi Amaral
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The world is embarking on a transition where the smoke clears from the mirrors and the veil lifts the entrance into the shadow. The time to advocate, acknowledge, witness and feel has presented itself so individually and collectively there may be a chance to process, heal, change, and transcend. There is no room for ignorance, denial, a blind-eye, running away, or remaining busy so to evade the detrimental aspects stagnating evolution.

For the past few years some of the dark, hidden layers and secretes behind: politics, police, churches, society, military, pedophilia rings, human trafficking, and entertainment and sports industries have bubbled to the surface. Each of the issues impacted many, which seemed to create a stir individually and collectively. All of these subjects are heart wrenching so to choose one is difficult. That said the focus here will be on the barrier between the military and society, and the hidden dysfunction no one bear witness to.

Protestors by Mimi Amaral

In July of 2019 the media brought forth the disturbing reality of the militaries involvement with Human Trafficking and Drug offenses. As indicated by Marine Corps Times, “Naval Criminal Investigative Service carried out a mass arrest of 16 Marines Thursday morning, during a battalion formation abroad camp Pendleton, California, according to Marine Corps officials.” If this induced breathing difficulties or a feeling of trying to catch your breath; wait, there seemed to be more to this layer of dysfunction. Anna Belle Hoots, Fordham Law Review Report, stated that, “The sex trafficking of women and girls by U.S. military men remains an issue plaguing U.S. Military bases overseas. While the U.S. government has offered several solutions to combat this specific niche of sex trafficking, the legislation and policy put forth are insufficient to eradicate the problem.”

People Not Profit by Mimi Amaral

The previous ousting of Human Trafficking and Drug issues has not been the militaries only insidious secret. Another example of military failures has been written by Justin Pritchard and Reese Dunklin; published in the PBS News Hour. Pitchard and Dunklin stated that, “In March, 2018, AP documented nearly 600 sex assault cases among children and teens on U.S. bases worldwide over a 10-year period. Army criminal investigators have now added another 86 investigations to the 223 they initially disclosed. The revision came after AP challenged data that suggested major instillations in several states and overseas had no or only a few such sexual assault cases.”

If the aforementioned atrocities were not enough to wake the sleeping souls, the previous murder of Vanessa Guillen by a fellow soldier may. Coverage about Guillen’s dismembered remains inundated the media. Victoria Albert reported that, “Vanessa Guillen, the Fort Hood soldier who has been missing since late April, was murdered and dismembered by a fellow soldier, a woman alleged in a criminal complaint obtained by CBS News.”

Acknowledging and integrating the inner shadow of the hidden layers of the military may induce a paralyzing numbness, but it is exactly what needs to be done for change to happen. It may have never crossed the minds of many, nor could anyone imagine these issues existing; but they do. Maybe we are in the middle of a zeitgeist shift and truth is revealing itself more readily so that the collective can take it upon themselves to speak-up, advocate, and bring awareness so issues that need to change can transform. This is devastating to witness, and definitely has dissolved the illusion of safety and protection around those who are in a position to protect the nation.

Film still- Courtesy of SXSW 2018

Now, on the flip side, it is only responsible to point out that not all personnel or members of the military are interacting in these destructive and toxic behaviors. Additionally, many military members may be surprised by the information that has been disclosed here, and may in fact be struggling with the idea of this occurring in an institution that he and/or she may whole heartedly believe in. Just because there are individuals acting upon these behaviors, does not mean it is justified to condemn all who are within the structure of the military. There are healthy and unhealthy humans among us, what one does for a living should not define who they are, or how they will behave. That said it still raises the questions: What will be done? And, what will be put into place to prevent abusive and detrimental behaviors?

Trying to understand the bureaucracy around these issues can be daunting. Combating these behaviors may be more complex than one would think. One example would be the reporting rules and procedures of the military, and the laws of individual states seem to differ when it comes to abuse of children within the military. Jen Fifield wrote an in depth document on this topic. Fifield described that, “Talia’s law, named for a 5-year-old girl who was killed by her solider father on a military base in Hawaii, requires military officials to immediately report any suspected child abuse or neglect involving military families to state social services agencies – the agencies aren’t required to let the military know about reports of suspected child abuse and neglect in military families.” This type of one-way communication seems to be a vital weak link.

Shadows within Shadows – Photo by Jenny Anderson

Furthermore, the article explained that there is a lack of state law set in place for social services to report suspected abuse to the military, which poses complications. It would seem that social service agencies view the military as an employer, which means the social service agency may not report any information found regarding abuse. Due to the social services perspective reporting abuse and neglect to the military may not be a requirement. This sounds like a major crack in the communication system.

Fifield reported that, “For the past three years, Pentagon officials have been asking states to enact laws or set policies that require local child protective agencies to ask families they work with if they are in the military, and, if they are, to immediately report any suspected abuse or neglect to the military… Addressing child abuse and neglect in the military can be complicated. Without the laws, the military may not find out about the neglect or abuse until a service member is charged criminally …”

I’m not sure how the rectification of these issues may unfold, but hopefully this article has brought some awareness regarding military issues that had and currently exist.


References

Anna Belle Hoots, Severing the Connection Between Sex Trafficking and U.S. Militar
y Bases Overseas, 88 Fordham L. Rev. 733 (2019). Available at: https://ir.lawnet.for
dham.edu/flr/vol88/iss2/12

Jen Fifield. Why Child Abuse in Military Families May Go Unreported. 07 June. 2017. Retrieved: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/child-abuse-military-families-may-go-unreported

Justin Pritchard, Reese Dunklin. Military Eyes Child Sex-Assault Solution in Congress. 07 May. 2018. Retrieved: apnews.com/bdee47ad52ea4db8b837039e2bc53f4d/Military-eyes-child-sex-assault-solution-without-Congress

National Sexual Violence Resource Center. 2018. Get Statistics. Retrieved: nsvrc.org/node/4737. October 31. 2019

Shaw Snow. 16 Camp Pendleton Marines Arrested by NCIS for Alleged Human Smuggling and Drug Offenses. 25 July. 2019. Retrieved: marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2019/07/25/16-camp-pendleton-marines-arrested-by-ncis-during-battalion-formation-for-alleged-human-smuggling-and-drug-offenses/

Victoria Albert. Missing Fort Hood Soldier Murdered and Buried by Army Specialist, Woman Says in Criminal Complaint. 3 July. 2020. Retrieved: cbsnews.com/news/vanessa-guillen-missing-fort-hood-soldier-murdered-and-buried-by-army-specialist-woman-says-in-criminal-complaint/