DocU Weekend opens with “The Invisible War”
Published: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 10, 2013 20:02
Veterans and people from the Dallas/Fort Worth area gathered to watch the documentary, “The Invisible War” at the 2nd Annual Human Rights “DocU Weekend” at the Angelika Film Center and Café on Saturday, Feb. 9.
The film uncovered the silent topic of rape and sexual harassment in the United States military.
A panel discussion took place after the screening of the documentary. It was moderated by Dr. Rick Halperin, Director of the Southern Methodist University Embrey Human Rights Education Program.
Lisa Lachance-Skier, a veteran of the first Gulf Conflict who served the United States Air Force for more than 13 years, spoke at the panel.
She was raped during the period of her service.
Skier affirmed the frequency of sexual harassment cases in the military.
“If you were in the military and you were a women, you probably experienced some sort of sexual trauma while you were on act of duty,” Skier said.
She said that her father had forewarned her about the situation before she enlisted in 1976. He had warned her of the attitude people had toward women.
“My father told me there were two kinds of women who enlisted in the air force – they were whores and gays,” Skier said. “I should have known what my father said, that things were not equal for women in military.”
Shedding light on the help available for these victims, Skier said there are psychiatric services offered within the military but the victims don’t want to talk because they don’t want it to affect their career, even though the military says it will not go on their record.
Commenting on the lack of justice for rape-victims in the military, Skier said that since “rapists are not on the [sex offenders’] list, they have learned how to play the system.”
Suggesting the audience to raise awareness about this topic, she said that because the military hides issues like these, “the [best] way to get the word out is to tell your friends to come see such films.”
She foresees that until the number of female recruits is equal to the number of male recruits, this problem cannot be solved.
“[The] Military is not as equal as they claim [it] to be”, said Skier.
According to Skier, an equal ratio of enlistment between the two genders is required “so that women can be heard loud and clear.”
“[This situation] is never going to change.” Veteran Carri Spears, who served in the military from 2001 to 2006, said.
“There are too many guys. Guys are on the field [for months]. They sneak liquor in, get drunk and [rape]. That’s how it works.”
Calling for action, Skier also said that a civilian type of system should be put in place for military personnel to get help from rather than reporting it to their commander.
Adam Haller, a 2007 SMU Alumna, was shocked to see this happening in the U.S. military.
He pointed out the “irony of service” that protects civilians’ lives, but at the same time, these are the very people committing these horrific crimes.
He also suggested that the “separate legal system” for the military should be changed.
A new system should be put in place that protects the military as well as preserves justice within it.
Jocelyn Lancaster, a 2008 SMU alumna and World Affair Council program manager, said that the film serves as a “good education” for anyone who wants to enlist in the United States military.
“It is important to learn everything about a situation before committing your life to it,” she added.
Noushin Kuraishi, a senior at SMU and an international studies major, suggested that “there should definitely be a hotline within the military to help victims, one that involves getting other actors in the justice system involved (like the police).”
The event was presented by the World Affairs Council, Human Rights Watch, SMU Embrey Human Rights Education Program, Dallas Film Society, Human Rights Initiative and sponsored by the lawfirm SNR Denton.