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Military sexual assault numbers are shocking

Staff Sgt. Yvette McClelland circa 1990 in San Antonio, Texas
Courtesy of Yvette McClelland
Staff Sgt. Yvette McClelland circa 1990 in San Antonio, Texas

Last week, I sat down with Yvette McClelland, a veteran who served in the Air Force for a decade. She worked as a telecommunications maintenance specialist. Her time in the military was fraught with sexism, harassment and assault. McClelland was raped three times by fellow service members, she says.

Many years later, she’s still working on handling the fallout. As part of an effort to draw attention to this systemic problem, she’s brought a movie to town. The Invisible War will screen at Guild Cinema today at 4, 6 and 8 p.m. and tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.

The 8 p.m. Friday and 12:30 p.m. Saturday screenings feature guest speakers Ariana and Ben Klay. They are suing the military after Ariana was assaulted while in the Marines.

The numbers are staggering. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta estimates that 19,000 people serving in the military were sexually assaulted last year, though only about 3,000 people reported it.

Though the Department of Defense is attempting to address the issue, McClelland points out what she thinks is the real problem: Sexual assault cases remain entirely within the military. The Stop Act, introduced in November, aims to create an independent body of civilian and military experts to investigate and prosecute those cases. McClelland says she hopes people will encourage their political representatives in Washington to support the bill.

 
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