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From the week of July 24, 2003

The Unfair Force

Dishonor roll: I read Julie Jargon's "Honor Rolled," in the July 17 issue, with interest, as I have many such stories over the past twenty years. Each case is unique, but a common thread runs through many of the stories. My son's case was very different from Cadet Moynihan's in that my son was cleared at every step of the way -- and yet he was disenrolled because his accuser was an "elitist" cadet "who could not have possibly made a mistake." While my son could not fight his own battle forever -- as he, too, had to serve to make up for his three-plus years at the academy -- I spent three years of intensive work to clear his name and succeeded at the final step with the Pentagon, which felt the same as those early in his hearings: that there was insufficient evidence to convict. In our case, I guess you could say we won the war but lost the battle.

I believe in my heart -- because I have to -- that most people in the system judge as best they can without prejudice, although many are too zealous and don't just stick to the evidence. Unlike in civilian courts, the feeling is often "better to lose a good one unfairly than to have a rotten apple escape into the system." Obviously, the civilian laws of our once-great nation could not tolerate this kind of thinking.

My son has moved on and has been working with a major aerospace company for years now. Although he never talks about it, I can tell you that the scars will always remain. I, too, have moved on. Again, I can forgive, but I will never forget those three torturous years in which I took on his case personally because I could not afford to continue to pay civilian lawyers.

The good that came out of our case was that we made many good friends in the Air Force who felt that my son got a raw deal. These friendships have lasted to this day and include many senior officers. In the end, all we can say is that life sometimes is not fair.

Paul R. Shannon
via the Internet

This won't be tolerated:I am a 1987 academy grad and find it interesting that things never change. We had a more rigid honor code then: Lie, steal, cheat or tolerate, and you are out. What the cadet did here is patently a violation, and she should not get a second chance. The whole harassment issue is a red herring. My experience is and was that the academy would aggressively go after the male cadet if, in fact, there was any crossing of the line.

Nice job helping to pull down a great institution. I hope you can sleep well at night.

Jeff Frient
via the Internet

Two if by sea:The two young people in your "Honor Rolled" story are freed of their Air Force bondage and may apply for a commission in the United States Naval Reserve. After flight school, they can apply for Top Gun training. Flying from a carrier on the high seas is a challenge the Air Force cannot offer. Good luck to both of them!

David Neuman
Thornton

MST time:I am a female veteran of the WAVES (Navy) who was raped by a Marine in 1960, at the age of eighteen. When I reported it, I was interrogated and eventually hospitalized. Navy personnel suggested the attack was my fault and really no big deal because I was not a virgin at the time.

I received no counseling or treatment, and during a hearing at the hospital, officers asked me what I wanted to do. I was sobbing and said, "I just want to go home to my mother." So they discharged me.

It breaks my heart that sexual assaults are still occurring in the military. They even have a name for it: Military Sexual Assault (MST).

To this day, I am still trying to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder from my assault and attending PTSD group therapy at the VA Medical Center with several other women veterans. Thank you for your interesting article. It's important that these stories are shared.

Claudell Van Hoozer
Omaha, Nebraska


Just the Bare Facts, Ma'am

How low can you go? How disappointing to see a cover such as the one you chose for the July 10 paper. How cheap, how disgusting. Do we really want to be a part of a society that has lowered itself to such a moral standard?

Mary Freund
Denver

Foul bawl:Westword's content is a "cesspool" in both articles written and advertising accepted. It's vulgar, smutty, pornographic, tasteless, foul content that would have no circulation if it wasn't free.

Bill Peery
Arvada


This Fun's Loaded!

Independence haul: Regarding Eric Dexheimer's "Armed and Dangerous," in the July 10 issue:

I hate to agree with Jon Caldara, but he's right: Conservatives are more fun these days. Or is that funnier? Either way, I enjoyed Dexheimer's Sports column -- almost enough to forgive Westword for the recent overdose of Independence Institute coverage.

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