Friday, May 20, 2016

"Booted": new HRW report

Human Rights Watch's May 19, 2016 report, Booted: Lack of Recourse for Wrongfully Discharged US Military Rape Survivors, is available online. Excerpt:
[V]irtually nothing has been done to address the ongoing harm done to thousands of veterans who reported sexual assault before reforms took place and lost their military careers as a result of improper administrative discharges. 
“Personality Disorder” discharges—a term used to describe a mental health condition that can disqualify someone from military service—were once “the fastest and easiest way to get rid of someone” in the military. The use of personality disorder discharges declined dramatically in 2010 after government studies revealed proper procedures were often not followed. Nonetheless, these, and other types of questionable mental health discharges, are still in use and they comprise part of the discharges examined in this report because of the continuing harm suffered by veterans who received these discharges and have no recourse to correct their records. 
Moreover, the reforms have not fixed every type of problematic discharge from the military for sexual assault survivors. Many were discharged with a less than honorable discharge (also known as “bad paper”) for misconduct related to their sexual assaults, which can exclude veterans from virtually all benefits. In the course of reporting a sexual assault, the victim may reveal conduct that is prohibited under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (such as adultery or fraternization), which may lead to a discharge. Prior to 2011, male service members in particular risked being thrown out of service for homosexual conduct for reporting rape by a male, even though the conduct was non-consensual. Symptoms of trauma may also impact performance and lead to a misconduct discharge. All of these types of discharges can create lasting harm and are nearly impossible to remedy.

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