As we celebrate Veterans’ Day this month, we acknowledge the more than 1.8 million women veterans, those who have given their lives on behalf of the United State, and the more than 203,000 women currently on active duty. We also take a moment to shine a light on some of the special gender-related challenges women in the military face. Along with a flurry of sexual harassment allegations targeting persons in media, politics and entertainment, sexual harassment in the military also has received significant attention.
A USA Today exclusive report most recently identified 500 cases of military misconduct related to the handling of sex scandals and other misbehavior. The cases involved generals, admirals and senior civilians. The report notes that sexual harassment committed by some top military leaders is an “open secret” at the Pentagon. The report also found that “despite widespread abuses,” the Pentagon has adopted no formal trend analysis to ascertain whether trends are improving or getting worse. Considering the Department of Defense receives almost $900 billion a year in federal funding, surely some funding and resources can be identified and obligated to track and reform a culture and practices related to the treatment of women in the armed forces.
Special note: Persons from racial and ethnic minority groups represent more than 40 percent of active duty military personnel. This is a 15 percent increase from 1990, when persons from these groups 25 percent of the total numbers. See Pew Research Center.