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Sexual harassment in the military may not be isolated incidents

Colorado has a long and distinguished connection to the United States armed forces. The state is home to six military installations, including five Air Force facilities. The Air Force Academy trains and educates some of the finest college graduates in the country. But even those who serve in the military are not immune to being victims of sexual harassment, and a case involving one Air Force drill instructor is bringing the topic of sexual discrimination in the armed forces to the forefront of the public discourse.

Everyone who enlists in the Air Force goes to basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas -- both male and female. A former drill instructor at the installation was recently found guilty of numerous sex crimes, and will now serve a 20 year prison sentence.

Some are saying that this one drill instructor's case is highlighting the issue of sexual harassment within our nation's military branches. This case is just one of several recent cases where female trainees have pursued complaints of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination. And now many public officials are calling for investigations into the military training and integration that female enlistees are subject to.

Criminal sexual assault carries its own penalties, but employment law protects employees from sexual harassment in the civil arena as well. These Air Force trainees were employees of the United States government, and they were subjected to harassment from their superiors. There is no place for that kind of activity in the workplace, and especially not in the workplace of the United States armed forces. Anyone who believes they have been the victim of sexual harassment in an employment situation should be sure that those who are responsible are held accountable.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "U.S. Air Force staff sergeant gets 20 years for rape, sex assault," Jim Forsyth, July 22, 2012

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