Letters to the Editor

From the week of February 6, 2003

The Enemy Within

The battle of the sexes: Regarding Julie Jargon's "The War Within," in the January 30 issue:

The sex-related problems that have surfaced ever since the mixed-gender experiment began in the service academies over two decades ago, like the reckless sexual behavior elsewhere in the military, should not surprise anyone. They were predictable to any of us who have graduated from those institutions, and they are part of human nature.

It doesn't matter what cadets and midshipmen are trained to do or how disciplined they are. The fact is that Mother Nature simply does not take orders very well. One cannot stop response to sexual urges any more than he can stop response to hunger.

Of course, it is worth asking what cadets were doing at a party where alcohol was served to begin with, and why they have not been dismissed.

The dumbing-down of physical requirements to accommodate the proverbial weaker sex, the flagrant fraternization, the deterioration of our ships at sea to floating whorehouses, and officers too pregnant to fly after a million dollars have been invested in their training should be lessons to us.

And yet Congress and our senior military leadership march on in denial of the inescapable conclusion that this experiment was designed to fail.

Even SERE training, an essential test of character, has had to be curtailed because it was too tough in the mixed-gender environment. I wonder if they think that a POW camp is going to be some sort of picnic. Sorry, girls, they are going to be playing for keeps, and you are going to be the toys.

War is hell, and it is about time we went back to staffing our armed forces accordingly.

Michael Cohen
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Class dismissed: "The War Within" was a very tragic news story that broke my heart. (My daughter is a cadet, class of 2005.) This animalistic behavior possessed by the aggressor and compounded by the weakness of the victim's situation has continuously repeated itself as bad history. I liken this to cancer that is waiting for the ideal environment to occur and will surely rear its ugly head despite all present measures taken by the Academy. This despicable and uncontrollable sexual behavior displayed by the aggressor has to be strongly addressed.

It is a biological fact that some young males possess potent sexual needs that render them physically powerless to control their strong sexual desires and urges. The strictest environment will either strengthen or weaken their constitution. No one can try to continously walk on water. What will work is for the Academy to have a continuous, formal group (a class) and/or informal small group (all-male guided get-together) to share, instruct and address individual sexual feelings and problems in a friendly environment.

As the Academy grooms them to be future leaders, emphasis must be placed on balancing their spiritual, physical and emotional needs till they reach their senior year. Maturity is a process whose twin is discipline. It is time for the Academy to assume accountability for all areas of the cadet's life, because his/her future lies in the Academy's hands.

Vivian Green
via the Internet

Safety first: Bullshit. That sums up Julie Jargon's "The War Within" pretty well. Female cadets are much safer at the Academy than females of equal age at a civilian institution. Some people are here who shouldn't be, but it's impossible to determine that they would do this sort of thing beforehand. A victim of assault at the Academy has much more support than their civilian counterpart. You also make it seem as if this is some sort of problem only females face. Again, bullshit. Males face the threat of sexual assault just as women do. And, yes, sometimes the assaulter is even female.

Nicholas Ringo
via the Internet

War and remembrance: Thank you to Westword and to Julie Jargon for her article about sexual assaults at military academies. As the author of For Love of Country: Confronting Rape and Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Military, my research and clinical work with military and academy rape victims is consistent with the experiences reported in this article. It is not uncommon when a rape victim in the military seeks help that she/he experiences barriers and repercussions for reporting the crime. These soldiers and cadets just want to serve their country honorably. In the end, they are often the ones who are discharged, punished or belittled -- not the sexual offender.

It is time for the military services and the academies to recognize that there is no honor, nor integrity, in committing a sexual offense. These service members and cadets are a discredit to the military and the true values that the military represents. In this time of world crisis and threat of war, it is especially important to know who the enemies are (especially if they wear the same uniform). The perpetrators (and anyone who acquiesces to their behaviors) should be held accountable. It is truly sad when those who serve with honor are not believed.

Thank you again for bringing this issue to the public's attention.

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