Protect Our Defenders News Blog


August & September News Roundup from Protect Our Defenders

Please find below your recap of top stories about stopping military sexual violence against service members and civilians.

On September 30th, POD President Col. Don Christensen was invited to speak to commanders during a base-wide Army SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention) Summit at Fort Knox, KY. As a guest speaker, he briefed the leaders at Fort Knox on issues facing survivors of military sexual assault that POD witnesses through our Pro Bono Network, and he spoke about the responsibility commanders have to support survivors and prevent retaliation by both peers and superiors. The goal of the Summit was to familiarize Command Teams with services available to victims and raise awareness of the impact of sexual assault on unit readiness.

POD Advisory Board Member Discusses Suicide Prevention

  • *Trigger warning* Military assault survivors are at much higher risk for PTSD than other veterans–according to a VA study, nine times as much. Too often, these brave men and women are left to struggle alone.
  • In a powerful piece, Protect Our Defenders (POD) Advisory Board member Brian Lewis discusses his struggles with suicide in the wake of military sexual assault, the importance of support, and the need for reform. As Brian says, the United States loses 22 veterans daily to suicide, and it is time for the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs to do more. [The Good Men Project]

  • POD applauds Brian’s courage in sharing this deeply personal story, as well as his continued efforts on behalf of veterans and survivors.

Gen. Robert Shadley, POD Advisory Board Member, Speaks at Army’s First Prevention Summit

  • In August, at the U.S. Army’s first Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention (SHARP) summit, POD Advisory Board Member Major General Robert Shadley (Ret.), author of The GAMe, explained how sexual assault is costing our military the best and brightest.
  • “The main thing I want to reemphasize is that SHARP is not a personnel issue; it is a readiness issue, a go-to-war issue.” said General Shadley. “We need every man and woman in our formations to be able to come to work every day and do the best job they can. We can’t afford the tragic distractions of sexual misconduct, particularly as the military downsizes. Let’s take this to heart and do what we’re supposed to do as leaders in the United States Army.” [DVIDS]

Retaliation Against Survivors Still Goes Unaddressed

  • The San Antonio Express-News has uncovered that, despite Congress making retaliation a crime almost two years ago, the Air Force has yet to send a single person to trial for retaliating against a sexual assault victim of sexual assault.
  • “Retaliation is thought to be common against sexual assault victims on active duty in all the service branches, not just the Air Force. In a Pentagon survey of active-duty service members who reported being assaulted, 62 percent said they had endured retaliation.”
  • “Victims often have said the specter of retaliation prompted them to not report attacks. That was frequently the case in an instructor scandal uncovered in 2011 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, where victims and others said they didn’t report for fear of being ‘recycled:’ forced to repeat part of basic training.” [San Antonio Express-News]

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