Dempsey Discusses Sex Assault Prevention During Facebook Session
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2013 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not shy away from controversy during his Facebook Town Hall held today.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey answered questions submitted to him on the website just as he would during an All Hands event at a military base. The audience for this one, however, was worldwide.
He addressed the issue of sexual assault in the military saying the services are changing the way these cases are handled.
“We have to fight this crime that so erodes the trust upon which our profession is built,” the chairman wrote. “We’ve welcomed the help of Congress and others to create a ‘constellation’ of policies around unit commanders to both assist them and to hold them accountable.”
He told those who submitted questions on sexual assault that he meets with the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on this subject often. “We’re tracking trends, making changes, reinforcing best practices and applying resources,” he said. “We want to be the best institution in the land at combatting this crime as we are at combatting other threats.”
The chairman also discussed military suicides and post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. After rising for years, suicides are now trending down in the military, the chairman said. “We’re heavily invested in understanding PTS and suicide, from research to treatment,” the general said. “Our services have also taken innovative measures, for example, the Army and NFL have partnered to study traumatic brain injury, and we have organizations like the Defense Centers of Excellence which also offers programs for families.”
Finally, the chairman spoke about social media, saying the military has benefited greatly from its speed, mobility and the interaction. Still, those benefits come with risks. “We’ve been working to emphasize the opportunity for leaders to positively influence military culture and discipline by getting involved in the space and being role models online as they are in units,” the chairman wrote. “I’ve also watched social media’s role in exposing the military experience to the citizens we defend, ranging from humor to debate.”
But there are also dangers to the media, and young people he said, need “to be thoughtful regarding their on-line presence.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneAFPS)