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Chaplain commission warns of sexual assault dangers in military

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In response to the increasing number of sexual assaults in the military, the Presbyterian and Reformed Commission on Chaplains and Military Personal (PRCCMP) issued a communication to member denominations so that Christians may learn of:

"the risks to both women and men in the current military culture: of the dangers of temptation, of being assaulted, and of being wrongfully accused. Until the Department of Defense changes this policy, the Church must be ready to counsel and support military members who find themselves in these tragic situations."

The letter continued to explain:

"If this disastrous policy is not reversed, many churches will be constrained to counsel daughters and other women against seeking to serve in any of our military services and to provide full legal support for women in our churches in seeking conscientious objector status when the draft returns."

The bulk of the official letter outlined the statistics of sexual assault. Known criminal activity of this type occurred in almost every military location with many of the assaults occurring where woman are assigned in remote locations, especially in combat areas, according to Department of Defense numbers.

There has been a substantial increase of sexual assaults from 2011 to 2013, starting with 3,192 reported cases to over 5,000. In 2012, the Department of Defense estimated that almost 25% of the over 100,000 active personal were victims of "unwanted sexual contact."

Of the estimated 26,000 cases, 55% were rapes or aggravated sexual assaults, according to the letter. From the extrapolated numbers, 53% of the victims were males. The issue is serious and wide-spread enough that the Veterans Administration opened a male victims unit in Florida.

The commission noted that educational effort, thus far, have had no noticeable effects. There was further concern that the military had no clear mechanism to ensure the rights of the accused or the victims.

The letter further reminded the churches that,

"Maintaining a high standard of ethical conduct is much more difficult when a persistent, needless, and abnormal level of temptation has been introduced into any situation, which is precisely what occurred when the decision was made to include women in military combatant assignments."

The commission is offering the letter as a help for churches and families of military.

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