It impairs the ideal of a brotherhood and sisterhood

Now for the Reveal article.

The U.S. Department of Defense is investigating hundreds of Marines who used social media to solicit and share hundreds — possibly thousands — of naked photographs of female service members and veterans.

Since Jan. 30, more than two dozen women – many on active duty, including officers and enlisted service members – have been identified by their full name, rank and military duty station in photographs posted and linked to from a private Facebook page.

In one instance, a female corporal in uniform was followed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, by a fellow Marine, who surreptitiously photographed her as she picked up her gear. Those photographs were posted on the Facebook group Marines United, which has nearly 30,000 followers, drawing dozens of obscene comments.

One member of the Facebook group suggested that the service member sneaking the photos should “take her out back and pound her out.” Others suggested more than vaginal sex:

“And butthole. And throat. And ears. Both of them. Video it though … for science.”

So much for military loyalty. So much for having each other’s backs.

The activity on the Marines United page was uncovered by The War Horse, a nonprofit news organization run by Marine veteran Thomas Brennan. Within a day of Brennan contacting Marine Corps headquarters Jan. 30, social media accounts behind the sharing had been deleted by Facebook and Google at the Corps’ request, and a formal investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service has been launched.

However, it is clear that the actions taken so far have not stopped the activity: Photos of the woman followed at Camp Lejeune were posted on Marines United on Feb. 16, more than two weeks after the linking accounts had been shut down. The Marine who shot those photos has been discharged from active duty, Marine Corps officials confirmed.

“We need to be brutally honest with ourselves and each other: This behavior hurts fellow Marines, family members, and civilians. It is a direct attack on our ethos and legacy,” Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green, the most senior enlisted Marine on active duty, wrote in an email response. “It is inconsistent with our Core Values, and it impedes our ability to perform our mission.”

I hope it is. I hope it’s inconsistent with their Core Values. But core values can turn out to be quite impoverished when you look closely at them. They can rule out lying, cheating and stealing while saying nothing about torture and brutality, let alone rape and stalking and harassment.

The service is deeply concerned about the damage the incident could do to the Marines, according to a document provided to generals Friday warning them of the upcoming story.

The 10-page “Office of Marine Corps Communications Public Affairs Guidance” lists resources for victims, including a website to report crimes, and provides talking points for other media and members of Congress – who, it suggested, will want answers. It also outlines another possible blow to come: inappropriate responses from Marines.

“The story will likely spark shares and discussions across social media, offering venues for Marines and former Marines who may victim blame, i.e., ‘they shouldn’t have taken the photos in the first place,’ or bemoan that they believe the Corps is becoming soft or politically correct,” it said.

You can count on it.

This distribution of photographs without the women’s consent can threaten their mental health, according to Dr. Frank Ochberg, a psychiatrist, founding board member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and former associate director of the National Institute for Mental Health.

“It impairs the ideal of a brotherhood and sisterhood, being able to count on somebody,” said Ochberg, who pioneered the post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis in 1980. “Within the military, this is a violation of family. … There are few organizations held to such esteem as the Marine Corps. They stand for honor, courage and commitment.

“This destroys honor. … This is sadistic. … This is disloyalty.”


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