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Congress and the administration continue to seek answers in fighting military rape and sexual assaults.  As part of the sexual assault reduction effort, service chiefs instructed commanders to remove offensive and degrading material from military offices and workplaces.  This written policy required units to remove pornographic and offensive material like, “books, pictures, photographs, calendars, posters, magazines, videos . . . .”

While this is a good reminder on maintaining an appropriate work area and promotes equality, it seems highly contradictory to continue selling pornography on military installations when it is not allowed in other public areas.

Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Exchanges continue to sell inappropriate magazines which treat woman as little more than objects for sexual pleasure. Please keep in mind that this smut is located in aisles where service members, spouses, families, and kids walk past every day.  While a placard may be present to hide the magazine cover, pornography continues to be sold on US military installations across the globe.

It is high time for this practice to stop.

If the military is truly concerned about this fight, then let us attack the attitude that allows sexual exploitation in the first place!  Let us create a better environment where people can truly be seen and respected as equals.  If pornography cannot be allowed in the workplace, why is it allowed in every government-sponsored store on post?

While pornography is not the sole cause of sexual assaults in the military, it is degrading the environment for women in the force and polluting a military climate built on respect, service, and integrity.

Many will call me outdated, old-fashioned, pre-historic, a Bible thumper, a religious zealot, or worse.  I have big shoulders if folks disagree, but pornography is part of the problem with our military culture.  We also deserve consistent policies guiding its removal.  If Big Army is listening, it is time to remove pornography from the PX.

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Military news outlets confirmed that the officer in charge of the U.S. Air Force effort to curb sexual assaults and harassment was arrested over the weekend.

A Lieutenant Colonel was arrested on Sunday and charged with sexual battery after he allegedly grabbed a woman by the breasts and buttocks.   An Arlington County Police spokesman said the woman fended off the attacker, who was under the influence of alcohol, and when he attempted to grab her a second time she was able to call the police, who arrived a short time later and detained him.

The attacker was initially held on a $5,000 unsecured bond.  He has since posted bond and been released from the Arlington County Detention Facility.

The Air Force said that the Lieutenant Colonel, had been removed from his job as chief of the service’s sexual assault prevention and response branch after his arrest.

Stories like this need to be shared in military circles.  It is an odd and ironic story because of the person’s duty assignment, but there are some common themes that need to be highlighted.

1.  The military has a zero tolerance policy on sexual assault and harassment.  You will be punished for violating this policy.  It may cost you your paycheck, your current assignment, your job, your military career, or your freedom as you sit in a jail cell.

2.  Alcohol use is reported in a majority of sexual assault causes.  If you drink, be responsible.  Do not allow excess to impair your judgment or behavior.  If you are serving alcohol, recognize when a person has had enough.

3.   You have the right to physically defend yourself.   Let us applaud the victim for defending / protecting herself, immediately calling the police, and standing up for her rights as an individual.

4.  Make time to file a report.  Too many service members fail to report incidents like this.  Know that you can always file an unrestricted report in a military setting.  This will limit who knows the incident took place, but allows you to receive care and counseling.

If you have questions, want to know your options, want to talk with a counselor, or need to report a sexual assault in the military, call 877-995-5247 or click www.safehelpline.org.  The DoD Safe Help Line is a 24/7 resource for all service branches.

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