Saturday, September 08, 2007

La Cage aus Folles Latest Update

Thank you, Bishop Howe for giving Trinity Preparitory School the publicity needed to draw a big crowd. The school will benefit greatly. Standing-room-only opening at 'La Cage'

Trinity Prep School play seems to benefit from free publicity after bishop's nix.

Tanya Caldwell Sentinel Staff Writer September 8, 2007 The thespians of Trinity Preparatory School opened their controversial show Friday night to a full house without the Episcopalian bishop's blessings.T hey opened their theatrical season before hundreds at the Orlando Repertory Theatre, playfully prancing around in blond wigs and patent leather heels.Some were girls. Some were boys in drag. And for the Episcopal bishop, that was the problem.The high schoolers hoped to perform La Cage aux Folles, a musical comedy that features a gay couple and drag queens, on their Christian campus last week.But Bishop John Howe, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, asked the school's headmaster to cancel the on-campus performance on Aug. 31, just hours before the show was to debut. Howe thought the PG-13 show was inappropriate for the school near Winter Park.But attendees thought it was inappropriate for the bishop to cancel the students' show."It was unfortunate that it just got canceled at the last minute. That was an uncalled for reaction," said Doug Truelsen, who attended the opening night Friday."They just got the rug whipped right out from under them," said Darby Ballard, an attendee who graduated from Trinity in 1990. "When I went to school we didn't have those guidelines. We had a different administration that was more accepting." The students took the show to Orlando Repertory Theatre after a week of debate about whether the bishop overstepped his bounds or held his moral ground. At least three other theaters also opened their doors to the group.At least 300 parents, peers and neighbors arrived for the opening night, laughing at the jokes, smiling during the solos and whistling as grinning drag queens danced across the stage. The Broadway musical has won several awards and was later tuned into an American movie called The Birdcage, which starred Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. La Cage features a gay couple in which one partner runs a French nightclub and the other performs there as a drag queen. The couple has been together for 20 years but make changes when their son bring home his fiancee and her conservative parents. Janine Papin, Trinity Prep's fine-arts department chairwoman, said earlier that she wanted do the show to "push the limits." She said the play is about family and tolerance, not about homosexuality. Fred Trabold, a 32-year-old attorney who graduated from Trinity in 1993, agreed with the bishop's decision."The issue is whether the Trinity Preparatory School, which is an Episcopalian school, should honor the bishop of the Episcopalian church," Trabold said. "It's not a matter of homophobia. I saw the movie The Birdcage and it was hilarious." Howe had no further comment Friday night two hours before curtain."I really have said all I want to about it," he said. Some attendees said the show taught moral values that others might enjoy."I think that the play has a lot of values to teach. It's about acceptance. It's about love. It's about tolerance," Truelsen said. "Those are great values to teach anyone." Tanya Caldwell can be reached at or 352-742-5928. Copyright © 2007, Orlando Sentinel

America's Dirty Little Secret: Male on Male Military Rape

Thousands of men have been raped by other men while serving in the military. It's something that the U.S. Marine Corp and Navy flatly refuses to even acknowledge. The statistics in the articles below represent 50% of our Armed Forces due to the denial of the problem. After listening to the NOW story Public Television last night about our service women being victims of rape by male soldiers, I thought about veterans I've known who have been subject to rape as well. So I went searching on the Internet this morning and found the following great articles. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- From the Boston Globe Sexual assault in the shadows

Male victims in military cite devastating impact on career, life

EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- The call came shortly after dinner on a raw night this winter. Mark Partridge sprang to the phone, eager to talk to his 20-year-old son, Brian, who had been based for more than a year on the USS Ardent, a minesweeper patrolling the Persian Gulf. Fulfilling a childhood dream to follow his father into service, it had been a moment of triumph when Brian landed a berth on the sleek gray ship. But what his father now heard on the other end of the line was anything but triumphant. His only child was nearly hysterical, on the brink of tears. "Dad, I've been raped," the young man shouted, as both men recall it. "There's blood all over the place." "Who did this?" demanded his father. "Where is he?" "I don't know," said Partridge, standing in the apartment of the man he says assaulted him. "I beat him up bad." "Go to the base security," his father commanded. "Right now." Partridge did just that. And then, almost immediately, he found himself caught in a legal labyrinth: Partridge's account met mounting skepticism from military investigators, and he soon faced charges himself -- a familiar pattern, according to other servicemen who have alleged abuse and some counselors who treat them. In the end, humiliated and terrified of what might await him in the brig, Partridge agreed to an other-than-honorable discharge, abandoning his military career. His case is unusual only in that he is talking about it. At a time when sexual assaults on women in uniform -- from the Air Force Academy to Iraq -- have scandalized the public and put the Pentagon on the defensive, the troubling incidence of sex crimes against men in the service has languished in the shadows, comparatively unremarked. It is well-populated shade. A Pentagon study of sexual assault in the military released in May found that 9 percent of the 2,012 reported victims of sexual assault in the armed forces in 2002 and 2003 were men. Most said they were assaulted by fellow servicemen. Those figures include 118 service members, some of them men, who say they were sexually assaulted during the current conflict. In addition, the US Department of Veterans Affairs has found more men than women reporting that they experienced unwanted sexual attention during their service years -- from rape to verbal harassment. In fiscal year 2003, for example, 10,693 male veterans told the VA they had experienced such treatment, compared with 9,348 women. The gender gap between those totals isn't surprising; far more men than women are served by the VA. Still, the sheer number of men who raise this issue with the VA screeners hints at the magnitude of the issue the military confronts. "This is a subject that has been vastly overlooked," said US Representative Louise M. Slaughter, Democrat of New York, and a strong advocate for sexual assault victims in the armed services. "I don't think any of us think of men as being rape victims, and certainly the military does not. I suspect men are quiet about it, because they want to preserve their career in the military." The US Department of Defense declined to discuss the incidence of sexual assaults on men or how the armed services are addressing the issue. But the department did express concern that the number of male rapes may be underreported. "We recognize that sexual assaults are seriously underreported," said Charles S. Abell, principal deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, in a statement, "and we have no reason to doubt that it is even more so in the case of male victims." The Globe interviewed eight men who said they were victims of sexual assault while in the military. While four of them said they never reported the offenses during their time in service, the other four said they did and wound up facing penalties themselves. One, a former US Marine who said he was beaten and sexually assaulted in 1975 while in basic training, said he was dubbed a "training failure" after he complained and was required to leave the service. Another, a Boston man who said he was raped while in basic training in the Army in 1978, was fined for an offense he says his commander never specified. Partridge was apparently the only one of the eight whose alleged assailant faced charges. All of the men were reluctant to be named, in part out of fear that going public could jeopardize their VA benefits, in part out of embarrassment or shame. For if male rape is a topic that causes squeamishness in civilian society, it is, the men say, nearly taboo in the overwhelmingly male and hierarchical culture of the military, where two men having sex remains a crime. In the end, only four of the eight would consent to be quoted by name. Met with disbeliefPetty Officer 3d Class Brian Partridge says he did precisely what a rape victim in the military is supposed to do. After hanging up with his father, he called his superior officer and remained in the apartment until two officers from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service arrived. He told them that after a night of drinking with other sailors at several local bars, he returned to the apartment of one of them for the night because the base curfew had passed. Shortly after he went to sleep in the guest bed, he woke up to find his friend sexually assaulting him. Partridge, a slender man with trim blond hair, said he threw off his assailant and, enraged, beat him until the other man fled. The following day, Partridge was questioned again at length. But this time, he said, the investigating officers did not seem to believe him. "They were making sly comments. They asked me three or four times if I was sure I wasn't gay, which I most definitely am not," Partridge said. "They were just not listening to me." Several weeks later, Partridge said, his story had been "completely turned around" by investigators, and he was given a choice: admit to participating in consensual sodomy and to beating up the other man, or face court-martial on both counts. If convicted, he would probably have received a prison sentence and dishonorably discharged. Partridge decided to accept what he and his father concluded was "the lesser of two evils." In March, he admitted to the charges and received an other-than-honorable discharge. Now living with his parents, he recently started work on a construction site. Lieutenant Christopher Servello, a spokesman for the US Navy, said the other sailor was charged with an offense in lieu of a court-martial and discharged. Servello would not say what the charge was or what kind of discharge the sailor received. The sailor could not be reached by the Globe. Although Partridge authorized the release of his military records, the Navy declined to provide them to the Globe. Servello said that Partridge's naval attorney and his sexual assault counselor were unwilling to be interviewed. But one naval official, in a letter to US Representative John N. Hostettler of Indiana, who looked into the matter at Partridge's request, said that service investigators "determined that the alleged sexual assault was actually a case of consensual sodomy." For Mark Partridge, a Navy veteran himself, the outcome has been shattering. Devastated by the emotional storm that engulfed their only child, he and his wife separated for four months before reuniting in July. But he wonders whether his son will ever recover. "They ruined him for life, you know," declared the elder Partridge. "What happens to you when they throw you out and make you look like the dirty guy? How do you explain any of this to an employer? How do you explain any of it at all?" And then he cried. Culture of aggressionMale victims in the service tend to be young, often newcomers to the deck or the field. Some have experienced personal misfortune, such as a previous incidence of abuse or the breakup of their family, and may project vulnerability, according to therapists who work with them. But because so few cases are reported, little more is known about why some men in uniform become victims of sexual assault. Like rape of any kind, male-on-male assault is viewed by specialists as, in most cases, an act of power, not sexuality. Only about 2 to 5 percent of the men assaulted in the military are believed to be homosexual, according to estimates by some therapists. The therapists know less about the perpetrators; they rarely have clinical contact with them. But some believe that aspects of military culture may abet sexual abuses. "Sexual assault in the military goes back to the beginning of time and mostly of men," said John Carracher, a clinical psychologist with the VA Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., who works with men who have been sexually assaulted. "The culture itself contributes to all forms of aggression, and that includes rape." Still, there is little, if any, evidence that male-on-male rape is more common in the armed services than in civilian society. The finding of the 2004 Pentagon Task Force Report on Care For Victims of Sexual Assault -- that 9 percent of those alleging sexual assault are men -- falls in the midrange of similar surveys outside the military. While the surveys cannot be compared directly, the US Department of Justice's National Violence Against Women Survey conducted in 1995 and 1996 found that 17.6 percent of the women surveyed said they had been the victim of rape or attempted rape; 3 percent of the men said they had been similarly victimized. The Bureau of Justice Statistics' National Crime Victimization Survey of 2002 found that 12.8 percent of victims of rape or attempted rape in 2002 were male. Few believe those numbers fully reflect the scope of the problem, in either the civilian or military world. The Pentagon's report cites several reasons that service men and women are often unwilling to report sexual assault, including fear of reprisals by the offender and concern that, "the chain of command . . . would not believe them and would ignore the complaint altogether." Also, the report found "a general perception that reporting a male-against-male sexual assault might cause people to question the victim's sexual orientation." Carlos Guice had little doubt about that conclusion. And so he kept quiet for years. "Why would I ever bring it up to anyone?" said Guice, 43, of Tampa, Fla., who said he was raped in 1983 by a superior officer while stationed at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. "People would think I was gay. You would be ostracized." And so, Guice, then 21, did what therapists say many victims do: He blamed himself. The victim of physical and sexual abuse as a child, he knew the risks of speaking up. Besides, he said his alleged assailant, an officer, had warned him that no one would take the word of an enlisted man. In despair, Guice twice tried to commit suicide while still in the Air Force, swallowing fistfuls of Valium. Sent to a psychologist, he was eventually given an administrative discharge. Guice ultimately wound up at the VA hospital in Bay Pines, Fla., which has a residential program for men who have been sexually assaulted during military service. 'A Walk in Hell' Greg Helle didn't tell for 31 years. He was 18 when he arrived in Vietnam in the spring of 1969, a scrubbed-face Iowa boy with coke-bottle eyeglasses. What he says happened to him in his first few months there would alter his life forever. On a hot night in June, shortly after Helle fell into a drunken sleep in his bunk, another soldier slid in behind him. Helle, now 53, wrote of what happened next in his book, "A Walk in Hell," which was published two years ago. "I remember my legs being forced apart," Helle wrote. "I remember trying to turn over, but being forced back down. I will always remember his face." Helle didn't speak up for several reasons. Ashamed that he had not been able to stop the attack, he knew that if anyone found out he would not be able to face them. There was also his assailant to consider, a large man who eyed him angrily from across the barracks. Helle went on to live an outwardly conventional life. He married, had two children, and settled in a comfortable suburb near Des Moines. If his family wondered why he always kept a pair of 4-inch knives strapped to his body, and a 6-inch hunting blade in his bedstand, as he still does, they did not ask. Like many male rape victims, Helle struggled with a need to constantly reassert his manhood. In 2001, he was arrested in a prostitution sting. ("The more women I had," he recalled, "the more manly I was.") His daughter, an officer with the Des Moines Police Department, was on patrol that day. Afterward, Helle told his wife, Alice, what had really happened to him in Vietnam. "He had told me years back this guy had tried to attack him and that he had leveled him," recalled Alice, breaking into tears. "I think he told me the version he wished had happened." And so the facade of normalcy began to crumble. Shortly after her husband's arrest, Alice Helle returned home from work to find him sitting in the garage smoking a cigarette and slashing his arms with a knife. "He looked like he'd been in a fight with a cat," said Alice Helle. In 2001, Helle attempted suicide at least four times, according to his VA record, and was hospitalized repeatedly, ultimately landing at the Bay Pines program. Two years ago, Helle was diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and he now receives monthly VA benefits of $2,318. In deciding to award him benefits, the VA concluded that Helle's disorder was related to both his combat experience and "to the claimed sexual assault which were reasonably verified." Helle feels better now, thanks in part to an array of medications and to a support group for veterans called the PTSD Alliance which he started two years ago. But he remains consumed by what happened to him. He spends many afternoons in his basement office, a dim cubicle that he calls his "bunker," searching websites for his assailant. He has tried unsuccessfully over the years to find him, unsure, at some level, if he really wants to. "If I found him, I would have to kill him," Helle said, fingering one of the three knives he keeps lined neatly near his computer. "When he breathes his last breath I want him to be looking at me." Specific servicesIf Helle had sought help back in 1969, there would not have been much available to him. But much has changed in recent years. The growing ranks of women in uniform -- now 15 percent of all service personnel -- has, by many accounts, made the US military more responsive to issues of gender and sexuality. "Women really dragged the men along on this one," said Lisa Fisher, clinical director at the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at the VA Boston Healthcare System. At the VA, for example, every veteran seeking services is asked if they were the victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault while in the military -- the system calls it "military sexual trauma" or MST. The department has also begun to provide services designed specifically for men. "These are people whose lives changed trajectory," said Dr. Terence Keane, director of the National Center for PTSD in Boston. "It is incredibly complicated for a young man. Your whole sense of self is altered. It is shattering on many levels." What happens to men who do report sexual crimes while still in uniform is difficult to quantify. Pentagon investigators puzzled in their report over "why many initial reports of sexual assault do not result in criminal convictions" but said incomplete data made the question impossible to answer. The report found that, in the last two calendar years, courts-martial were started in 26 percent of the cases involving military offenders in the various services, the army excepted. Military justice action was taken in more than 39 percent of the cases. But among the veterans interviewed by the Globe there was a clear sense that, as in the case with Brian Partridge, reporting an offense led to trouble not so much for their assailants as for them. "Brian has repeated almost verbatim what has happened to many men I have seen," said Roger J. Girard, a former VA therapist who started a men's group at the VA hospital at Bay Pines in the mid-1990s. "The victim is portrayed as the perpetrator, especially with men, to save face." Partridge's case is also similar to others in that it is hard to discern exactly what happened. As with many rapes, there were only two people present during the incident and their stories apparently differ. As the Pentagon report points out, often in such cases the only indisputable fact is that sex occurred. Partridge believes military investigators decided that he had consented to have sex with his assailant and then changed his mind after it was over in order to save face. But if that were so, as Partridge points out, would he not have kept quiet about the matter? Why would he have gone to authorities and drawn public attention to this case? Shortly after he was discharged, Partridge contacted the offices of Senator Richard Lugar and Hostettler, both Indiana Republicans. Looking back, Partridge wonders if he made the right choice in signing papers that say he did something he insists he did not do. "It killed me to sign this thing, just killed me," said Partridge, clenching a copy of the agreement in his fist. The other-than-honorable discharge that Partridge received still burns like shrapnel. It means that he is unlikely to receive any federal benefits for his two years of Navy service. It means he will have to find something else to do with his life. And it means that when he passes the living room shelves heavy with his ROTC awards and photographs of him in the service he can no longer bring himself to look. "When I was a little kid, all I wanted to do was go into the military, you know, like a little Rambo," said Partridge, stubbing out his cigarette. "But it's not like they show in the posters. It's not like that at all." ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- April 01, 2005 Sexual Assault Among Male Veterans Melissa A. Polusny, Ph.D., and Maureen Murdoch, M.D., M.P.H. Following U.S. Senate hearings on military sexual trauma in 1992, the U.S. Congress mandated the VA provide health care services for women veterans who experienced sexual assault while serving in the military. Later the mandate was extended to male veterans sexually assaulted in the military. However, without routine screening for sexual assault, many victims of adult sexual assault may be unrecognized; consequently, veterans suffering sexual assault-related sequelae may go untreated by their health care providers. In 1999, the VA was mandated to screen all veteran enrollees, regardless of gender, for military sexual trauma experiences. Since 2002, 33,212 male veterans and 28,850 female veterans have been identified as reporting military sexual trauma (Department of Veterans Affairs, 2003, 2002). However, a number of intervening factors, including time constraints and stereotypical beliefs about victims of sexual assault, may influence whether health care professionals routinely screen all patients for a history of sexual trauma. Nowhere are society's expectations of men as being strong, aggressive and avoidant of sexual contact with other men more pronounced than in the military. Combat veterans are stereotypically viewed as heroic, strong and hypermasculine. Such attributes are antithetical to stereotypical characteristics of adult sexual assault victims (e.g., weak, ineffectual, female) (Howard, 1984; Madriz, 1997; Sattem et al., 1984). Thus, common (but erroneous) clinician beliefs about who is and is not likely to be a sexual assault victim in combination with male victims' gender socialization (e.g., stigma against vulnerability, weakness and homosexuality) could lead to situations where male veterans "aren't asked and don't tell" about sexual assault (Whealin, 2004). Data highlighted above suggest that male gender and veterans' combat status should not dissuade psychiatrists from screening for adult sexual assault. Despite growing constraints on psychiatrists' clinical time, screening for sexual trauma and consequent psychiatric sequelae among men should be routine. Screening for sexual trauma does not generally require a great deal of time and may greatly enhance clinical outcomes by leading to appropriate assessment of sexual trauma's role in a particular patient's psychiatric difficulties. Effective sexual assault screening incorporates evidenced-based screening methods and may be accomplished through the use of written, self-administered intake forms containing behaviorally specific items asking about unwanted sexual experiences. Several instruments designed to assess a wide range of potentially traumatic events, including sexual assault, are available for use by clinicians. For example, the Life Stressor Checklist-Revised (LSCL-R) (Wolfe and Kimerling, 1997) assesses for sexual trauma, high-magnitude events and broader developmental experiences (e.g., permanent separation from a child) that may be linked to psychosocial disruptions. The Post-traumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale (PDS) contains a 12-item checklist of potentially traumatic events (Foa et al., 1997). Those who screen positive for exposure to potentially traumatic events are then instructed to provide ratings of the frequency of PTSD symptoms corresponding with DSM-IV criteria. In addition to administering brief questionnaires, questions about trauma exposure-including sexual assault-may be incorporated into the psychiatric evaluation. For health care and mental health care professionals with less experience in assessing and treating sexual assault, the VA Employee Education System has developed a military sexual trauma self-study guide that offers guidelines for successful screening strategies, potential barriers to screening and follow-up treatment strategies (Employee Education System, 2004). A Web-based version is available at . When men disclose a history of sexual victimization, it is critical that health care professionals respond in an empathetic, nonjudgmental and affirming manner. Disclosure of sexual assault by men provides psychiatrists and other mental health care professionals with an important opportunity to dispel male rape myths for victims, offer accurate information and education about the impact of sexual assault, and discuss the availability of effective treatments, including psychotherapy, for post-assault sequelae. By routinely asking about sexual assault, psychiatrists can play an important role in identification of trauma-related psychopathology, which, if undetected and untreated, could contribute to psychiatric treatment failures. Increased awareness and understanding of male sexual assault as well as routine screening of all patients, regardless of gender, for exposure to sexual victimization or other potentially traumatic experiences, will enhance the recovery of sexual trauma survivors. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Male (and Female) Rape in the Military

Florida Today Special Report

Male sex abuse revealed in ranks

Thousands of male veterans report enduring sexual trauma during their military careers

Greg Helle. Image copyright © 2003

Courtesy of Greg Helle


By Alan Snel

Vietnam veteran Greg Helle kept his secret for 32 years until he reached a crossroads in life: He was going to kill himself or he was going to get help. In 2001, the lifelong Iowan came to Florida to save his life. Helle entered a one-of-a-kind U.S. Veterans Affairs program in St. Petersburg designed exclusively to counsel men who were raped or sodomized in the armed services. At the Bay Pines VA Medical Center, Helle learned during his daily sessions that many other men had been sexually assaulted by peers or superiors in the military. Helle never reported his rape. He didn't think his officers in Vietnam would believe him. And even if he did report the rape, he was certain the friends of the attacker -- another GI who bunked across the hall -- would kill him. "The rape ruined my life," said Helle, 52, today the administrator of a 400-student veterinary teaching hospital at Iowa State University. Greg Helle, a veterinary hospital administrator from Ankeny, Iowa, says he was raped during his tour in Vietnam by fellow soldiers. A Florida Today investigation uncovered thousands of veterans who say they suffered sex abuse in the military. Now, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has quietly begun collecting nationwide data on the extent to which men like Helle have been sexually traumatized in the armed services. The preliminary results put the projections of sexual trauma cases in the tens of thousands, including hundreds of men now living in Central Florida. "This is a national crisis, but nobody will listen to me," said mental health counselor Roger Girard, a 22-year military veteran who treated dozens of sexually assaulted men, including Helle, at Bay Pines. "The brass of the military don't want to admit this happens because it's a black eye." To uncover the extent of the problem, Florida Today obtained the VA's preliminary findings from its sexual trauma survey of 1.67 million veterans enrolled in 1,300 VA health care facilities across the country. It examined VA records and interviewed government and private psychologists across the United States. And it used the Freedom of Information Act to seek reports and prosecution information from the military. It found: Thousands of victims. Nearly 22,500 male veterans -- more than one of every 100 former soldiers, sailors and airmen treated by the VA -- reported being sexually "traumatized" by peers or superiors during their military careers, VA survey records show. That includes 769 men in the VA's Central Florida Health Care System, which includes Brevard County, Orlando and the Tampa Bay area. Most men who answer, "yes," to sexual trauma are being treated for other ailments by the VA, and only a small fraction are being treated exclusively for their military sexual abuse. With the survey only half over and another 1.7 million male VA patients still to question, administrators say the final number of victims will be much higher. "This is a sleeping phenomenon. . . . We're acknowledging it's not just a women's problem," said Carole Turner, a VA director who oversees the computer software collecting the sexual trauma data. No tracking of circumstances. Sexual trauma, as the VA defines it, includes rape, sodomy, molestation, harassment and unwanted sexual attention such as "touching, cornering, pressure for sexual favors, verbal remarks." However, neither the VA survey nor the military has categorized or counted the types of male sex abuse cases, meaning no one fully understands the extent of the problem. The VA also does not know how many male sexual trauma victims it treats every year. That lack of detail makes comparisons between the VA figures and sexual trauma rates in the active military nearly impossible. The military experience of VA patients spans more than 60 years, so there's no conclusive way to determine whether the prevalence of male sexual trauma among veterans reflects rates in today's active military. Two military services do not comply with sex abuse reporting rules. Despite a congressional mandate that the military keep statistics on violent crimes, including sexual assaults, just two of the four major services -- the Army and the Air Force – could provide any statistics on sex crimes, and only the Army tracked the victims' gender. The Navy and Marine Corps could provide no information. The Army, the biggest service with about 1 million active and reserve personnel, reported 78 cases of sexual assault on men in the past 12 years -- about seven per year -- a number that struck veterans, criminologists and psychologists as low. Military unaware or unconvinced of a problem. A Marine Corps spokesman dismissed the male sexual trauma subject as an "off-the-wall topic" when asked to arrange an interview with a senior Marine officer. An Army spokeswoman called the reported cases in her service "statistically insignificant." Another Army spokeswoman, when asked about sexual assaults on men, began explaining the military's policy on homosexuality. Lack of reporting by men could be a major reason why military leaders know little of the problem. Domination the prime motive. Veterans Affairs psychologists who are treating sexually assaulted vets described most male victims as the youngest, lowest-ranking enlistees in the military, and the sexual assaults were carried out to humiliate or demean the victims. Such attacks are not homosexual acts, but efforts to assert power over others, the VA psychologists stressed. These nationwide counselors interviewed by Florida Today said most of the VA's treatment cases involved physical abuse, not insults or harassment. "It's pretty clear that we're discussing unwanted sexual activity that's coercive in nature," said Art Rosenblatt, coordinator of the VA's military sexual trauma program in Central Florida. Military refusal Florida Today asked all four major armed services and the Department of Defense for interviews with officers or policymakers to discuss its findings on military sexual trauma involving men. All four and the Pentagon rejected those requests. But in an e-mail, Marine spokesman Lt. Col. Stephen H. Kay wrote from his Pentagon office, "I can tell you that the Marine Corps takes any allegation of sexual assault very seriously, regardless of the genders involved. Such matters are thoroughly investigated when reported, and appropriate disciplinary action is taken when warranted." Army spokeswoman Elaine Kanellis said from the Pentagon, "When the Army is made aware of it, we'll go after it. . . . I don't think it's an epidemic." The Air Force, which has 612,984 active and reserve personnel, reported 136 sexual assault cases on men and women in the past five years. However, it declined to review those cases to determine how many of the victims were men. "When an accusation is made, things are looked into," Air Force spokeswoman Valerie Burkes said from the Pentagon. "If there is evidence to substantiate the allegations, the next step is prosecution." In December, Florida Today formally requested information on cases at Florida military installations such as Eglin Air Force Base near Pensacola and the Navy's air and ship bases in Jacksonville. Patrick Air Force Base in Brevard County reported no sexual assault cases involving men as the victim during the past 20 years. "It's an issue that clearly no one in the military wants to discuss," said an ex-Marine from Brevard County who was sexually attacked by his commanding officer in Vietnam in 1969. The former Marine, now in his 50s and a counselor treating trauma survivors in Central Florida, asked not to be named. Florida Today agreed, in keeping with its normal policy on sexual abuse victims. High prevalence "Sexual assaults on military men is much more prevalent than people imagine," said VA psychologist David Sutton, a former Air Force pilot and Vietnam vet who counsels male sexual assault victims at a VA hospital in Big Spring, Texas. "In basic training, it's easy to exert one's power over a young recruit. And even if they do report it, there is an attempt to disregard it or an attempt to cover it up." While the VA survey counted 22,486 cases of male sexual trauma, it also showed 19,463 cases of female sexual trauma – validating the reports of sexual abuse rates among women that made news throughout the 1990s. The VA survey showed 22 percent of female vets said they suffered sexual trauma during their armed services careers. That roughly matches an earlier, national survey of women veterans in 1996. That survey found 23 percent of women reported sexual assault in the military and 55 percent reported harassment. Abuse of women in the military became a mainstream news media topic in the 1990s. Attention focused primarily on the Navy's Tailhook scandal of 1991, which involved Navy and Marine aviators forming a sexual harassment gantlet at a Las Vegas convention, and the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground sex abuse cases of 1996. The thousands of sexual trauma cases that involved men in the armed forces, however, has caught everyone off guard, from military leaders to members of Congress who sit on Senate and House committees that oversee the military. Nearly every federal official interviewed for this story was unaware the VA had even begun a survey of male veterans -- or female vets. Psychologist Terri Spahr Nelson, a decorated Army veteran from Ohio who wrote a book last year on sex abuse in the armed forces, said the attention now focused on male military sexual trauma is similar to the public spotlight cast on the plight of sexually abused military women 10 to 15 years ago.

'I felt dirty'

Among the men being treated by the VA, sexual trauma victims have described officers or older enlisted men gang raping recruits, soldiers sodomizing victims with gunbarrels and forcing young enlistees to perform oral sex. Paul Branesky, a retired Navy diver from St. Petersburg, said four sailors raped him in the summer of 1967 at submarine training school in Groton, Conn. "I didn't report anything. . . . They told me if I said anything I was dead. After I got up off the floor, I stood in the shower for three hours trying to wash the way I felt. I felt dirty and shameful," Branesky said. "Anybody who has reported anything, the military classified them with a section 8 that they were homosexual and got them out of the military." Branesky, 55, has been treated for the sexual trauma at Bay Pines VA Medical Center in St. Petersburg since 2001. "I know my life was hell and my wives' lives were hell," he said, referring to four marriages. "I still have friends in the military and I know it's still going on today." Branesky's case is consistent with many others, psychologists said. "The military is a macho organization, and if a man is sexually assaulted, there is a stigma that means the man was weak in some way or homosexual or he did something to warrant the rape," said Maria Crane, a VA psychologist who works on trauma cases in St. Petersburg. The Department of Veterans Affairs survey comes in response to a 1999 federal law designed to improve sexual trauma treatment for veterans. Just as other doctors' offices ask patients about their prescription drugs or supplements, VA clinicians routinely ask veterans whether they were ever sexually traumatized during their military careers. By simply counting the "yes" responses, VA officials hope to grasp the extent of the problem. "Men have not been asked before," said Sarah Ullman, a University of Chicago criminologist who has studied rape victims. All generations Mental health counselor Girard, who left Bay Pines two months ago, said the veterans he counseled for sexual assaults ranged in age from men in their early 20s to an 87-year-old World War II vet. His patients included victims from every war era who were based at domestic and overseas installations. The modest counseling facility at Bay Pines has treated more than 100 men since 1994. Out of 1,300 VA health sites nationwide, the Bay Pines center has the only residential treatment program designed exclusively for daily treatment for male sexual trauma victims. Modeled after the facility's program for women, the men's program is being restructured and will treat six to eight male vets during four-week sessions starting in April. Most sexual trauma patients reported being attacked as young enlistees. But Girard said few assaults were carried out as hazing rituals. The only initiation-style sexual assaults patients reported were when sailors fondled victims' genitals or sodomized them with broomsticks when they sailed across the equator or the international date line, he said. A more typical case involved a young Navy shipping clerk at a base in Adack, Alaska, in 1970. The clerk, Nelson Alvarez of Abilene, Texas, was ordered by a supervisor into a metal building, kicked viciously in the back and raped. "I was a 20-year-old kid. There was no way I would report this. If I reported it, I would have been labeled a homosexual," said Alvarez, a 52-year-old father of two who said the incident happened on Sept. 28, 1970. "The pain was so intense that I became literally numb. It felt as if my spirit had left me." Another case involved a 20-year-old Marine who visited what he thought was the house of new military friends in the Camp Pendleton area outside San Diego in the summer of 1972. But he said he was raped. The former Marine recalled the base psychiatrist referred him to a Pendleton counselor for treatment. The former Marine, now 50 and living in northwest Ohio, recalled his counselor's words: "His advice was to get a six-pack and get on the hill."

Healing via telling

The painful experiences resonated with Vietnam veteran Helle, who was treated at Bay Pines in St. Petersburg during a 31/2-month period in 2001. The trauma described by men there ranged from gang rape to one-on-one penetration, he said. "There were all services there. There were Marines there. Marines are tough as nails," Helle said. "These guys were not unemotional about it. One guy was a massive guy, a tough guy. He said the healing was in the telling." "I do not hold the government responsible for what happened to me. I'm a patriot. I'd be over in Afghanistan, but I'm too damn old," said Helle, who volunteered to serve in Vietnam after being a high school wrestler in Iowa. "I'm not here to destroy the government. I'm not here to destroy the VA." Most members of Congress who sit on veterans affairs and armed forces committees contacted by Florida Today declined to comment. Their press representatives said they first wanted to see the VA's military sexual trauma report. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Tallahassee, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, did not return phone calls to comment. But U.S. Rep. John McHugh, an upstate New York Republican who chairs an Armed Services Committee's subcommittee, said, "My intention is to sit down and see how much of a disconnect there is between the VA numbers and the number of reported incidents in the active military." McHugh's district includes the Fort Drum Army base near the Canadian border. A wider problem? The VA's military sexual trauma survey may indicate an even wider problem, system psychologists said. Considering that 18 million of the 24.5 million veterans in the United States have never used the VA's health system, there could be thousands more male sexual trauma cases the survey won't account for, VA psychologists such as St. Petersburg's Crane pointed out. It's possible that veterans who have been sexually traumatized are more likely to use the VA system than those who have not, meaning the rates could be lower for the overall veteran population. However, the lack of reliable crime information from the military makes such a comparison impossible. And even if all armed services kept such statistics, they might not accurately reflect the problem. Most sexual assaults on men go unreported, VA psychologist John Carracher of West Palm Beach said. Military men do not report the attacks because they fear no one will believe them, their careers will be damaged, they will be labeled homosexual or they will suffer retribution from the attackers or their commanders, VA psychologists said. Criminologist Nathan Pino of Georgia Southern University, could not believe the Army had only 78 male-on-male sexual assaults since 1990, as the service reports. "The military is geared toward being hyper-masculine. And if you said you were gang-raped, it would be a blow to your manhood," said Pino, who recently published an article on the differences between men and women reporting sexual assaults. "The military is like any closed society, like police departments. You don't rat on anyone. And if you did report it, you would fear retaliation." In interviews with psychologists treating sexually assaulted men across the United States, one phrase -- "the military culture" -- came up again and again in explanations of why military leaders won't discuss the topic, why men are prone to keep their secrets. It's a culture far different from the civilian world; a culture of power and order where there are no confidential sessions with psychologists. "To admit you were raped," Helle said, "is so far against what you're trained for."


Women's abuse drew spotlight 10 years ago

Sexual assault rate higher for female enlistees

By Alan Snel


The focus on men sexually assaulted in the military comes about 10 to 20 years after the first major efforts to help women in the armed forces. Attacks and harassment of military women got earlier attention because the rate is so much higher. An Ohio therapist who served in the Army and wrote a book on the subject last year says sexual abuse against women in the military is an "epidemic." In Terri Spahr Nelson's book, "For Love of Country: Confronting Rape and Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Military," she cited a 1995 Department of Defense study that showed 47 percent of women received "unwanted sexual attention." The study also showed 9 percent of women in the Marines, 8 percent of women in the Army, 6 percent of women in the Navy and 4 percent of women in the Air Force were victims of rape or attempted rape in 1995. Reported rates of sexual trauma of women in the military are twice as high as those in civilian life. A 1996 DOD study showed 55 percent of women reported experiencing sexual trauma -- ranging from harassment to rape -- compared to 24 percent of women in the civilian world. "Surveys of women in the military tell a story of rampant sexual abuse and harassment by their male counterparts amid concerns that the issues are being minimized or ignored by military leaders," Nelson wrote. Treatment programs for sexually abused women increased as high-profile cases made national headlines: the Navy's Tailhook incident of 1991 and the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground sex abuse cases of 1996. "In the early 1990s, Tailhook was one of the spurring events that brought it the public eye," said Sherri Bauch, the Veterans Health Administration's western U.S. deputy field director in Tacoma, Wash., and co-chairwoman of the National Military Sexual Trauma Work Group. In 1992, Congress ordered the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide treatment to female veterans traumatized by sexual assault experienced during active military duty. VA medical centers now have a women's veterans program manager, Bauch said.!NEWSROOM/special/militaryabuse/militaryabuse.htm

Political Rant

My Political Rant

I’ve been changing back and forth about which democratic candidate to support for president and I have to admit that I’m a flip-flopper. One week I’m for Dennis Kuchinich, the next week Barack Obama and the next John Edwards and the next week it’s Hillary. There are several reasons for my inability or unwillingness to commit to a candidate. For one thing, I find the field of democratic candidates reflect a pool of really great candidates running. They are ALL good. With that said, it boils down to the fact that for me, not one of them embrace all of the criteria I really want as my president. One has a stand on one issue I like, but not another issue. But another candidate takes a strong stand on that other issue I support. So listening to my podcasts of Ed Schultz, Randi Rhodes and Thom Hartmann over the past few days, I started jotting down issues which callers brought up which are also important to me. By writing them down I was able to create a focused list of what issues are the MOST important to me, and based on the callers to the talk shows, a lot of other Americans as well. Here they are: 1. End the war. The Iraqi government is totally falling apart. The extremist factions HATE western democracy. They hate what they view as American imperialism. They hate the capitalism of democracy. Iraq is a collection of tribes. They prefer tribalism and outsiders who invade their country, steal their oil money, upset their tribal balance and force a way of life on them they don’t want. Our military is stretched. It’s gotten so bad that to meet enlistment requirements they’ve allowed people to serve in the military who would normally be rejected. Judges are sentencing criminals to military service as opposed to prison time. I’m talking about skin heads, gang members and other undesirables. Officers are getting increasingly frustrated at the low quality of the recruits, the fighting, murders of their good soldiers by the gang bangers.

A retired general said the other day that in March of 2008 our military will not be able to function properly. The number of deployments allowed will affect many of our troop levels, many soldiers cannot legally be forced to stay in the military past the several extensions they bravely suffered and our overall number of troops available worldwide will be stretched to the point of military ineffectiveness.

2. Get rid of Nafta.

Do we really want Mexican truckers free access to American’s freeways? Do we really want drug smuggling to increase in our country? Human trafficking? How many hours are the drivers allowed to be on the road without rest periods? What are the standards of truck maintenance? How many people driving on America’s freeways are at risk of injury or death?

3. A balanced budget.

The U.S. is amassing 400 billion dollars a year in debt alone. We are operating on a debt based economy which will eventually devastate our country. Especially if China demands repayment with a due date. The war in Iraq is being financed by America borrowing the money from China. 4. Tax fairness/Corporate corruption/Waste, fraud and abuse. I wish our elected officials would bring an end to corporate welfare.

The wink and a nod by our government to companies who move their headquarters overseas to avoid takes, outsource American jobs overseas and providing the wealthiest 1% of Americans with big tax breaks while the middle class lose their jobs is deplorable.

And Hillary Clinton’s turning a blind eye and doing NOTHING about the corporate corruption of Halliburton, Blackwater, Dresser Industries and others is discouraging. She sits on the Armed Services Committee in the senate. She knows that billions of tax payer dollars have been squandered and remains silent. Americans should be outraged over this. 5. Universal Healthcare.

I like Dennis’ plan the most. A single payer system (expansion of medicare) will NOT make the U.S. budget go broke. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama’s plans can get expensive with the payroll deductions they suggest in their plan. Last year, there were 47 million uninsured Americans. This number is 2 million more than the year before. This is a an outrage in a country who claims to have strong moral values.

6. Punish outsourcers of American jobs.

7. Immigration Reform.

The U.S. has failed to get control of our borders. We need to do this. Our government has no idea how many terrorists have crossed across our borders. We need to punish employers who hire illegal aliens. America is having enough problems with our infrastructure, our educational system and the erosion of the middle class. We cannot afford to financially support those who insist on coming into the U.S. illegally and depend on the American taxpayer to pay for their education and healthcare.

"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts." -Will Rogers

Friday, September 07, 2007

Hate the Hypocrisy, Not the Gay Senator

HATE the Hypocrisy, Not the Gay Senator Steve Gushee Palm Beach Post September 7, 2007
Father Steve Gushee is a former religion editor for the
Palm Beach Post.
He is a frequent contributor.
Father Gushee is a retired Episcopal Priest.

Hypocrisy is the great sin that haunts recently exposed gay public figures. They often rail against the very lifestyle they practice.

The greater sin may be rooted in a culture that self-righteously uses the Bible to condemn homosexuality; that drives gay men and women to personal dishonesty, marital distress, public embarrassment and perceived hypocrisy.

Such men are often married with children. They appear vehemently antigay, conservative advocates of family values. Their life becomes an elaborate, painful charade designed to keep their true sexuality hidden, from themselves as well as from the public. When exposed, they Invariably appear hypocritical.

Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, who resigned his seat Saturday, is but the latest prominent socially conservative married man to be caught In a homosexual encounter. The Rev. Ted Haggard was a married pastor, founder of a 14,000-member church and president of the National Evangelical Association. He resigned in November last year after a gay tryst became known.

James McGreevy, married and father of two, resigned as governor of New Jersey in 2004, when his homosexuality became public. Haggard and McGreevy have each said they struggled for years to suppress their sexuality.

Many gay men marry to convince themselves they are not gay, so damning is that label in our Christian culture. A church I once served hosted a support group that helped such men wrestle with their sexuality, social pressures, cultural bias and religious prejudice. Many participants gave the group credit for saving their marriages and,Indeed, saving their sanity, even though they had to maintain the fiction that they were heterosexual.

A society that recognized gay people as human beings with human rights with have few closeted public figures. A Christian society that embraced the outcast as Jesus taught would support the effort of a responsible sexual minority to be part of mainstream American life. Instead, the American version of a Christian society drives gay men and women to live raudulent lives.

Jesus roundly condemned adultery between heterosexuals, though our society winks at the practice, even among presidential candidates. He never uttered a word about homosexuality. To be sure, Paul condemned it. He also supported slavery, discouraged marriage and suggested those who married live celibate lives.

Less hypocrisy in our religious life would lead to less among our public officials.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

La Cage aus Folles Update

I had a laugh when I read this. If the show is billed as an independent production with no times to the Episcopal school, why did the Headmaster of the school announce it? From the Orlando Sentinel:

Trinity Preparatory School's production of La Cage aux Folles will be performed off campus at a local theatre this weekend, billed as an independent show with no ties to the Episcopal school.Headmaster Craig Maughan announced the decision in press release this morning. There will be four performances of the musical at the Orlando Repertory Theatre.