Nurse In The Military - Pros & Cons - Sexual Assault

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    Hi,
    Iím an RN and Iíll finish my BSN this December; I havenít worked as an RN yet. Iíve been seriously considering joining the Air Force. It seems like a great opportunity plus (at least in the beginning) I can get rid of student loans and ensure a quick way to continue my education beyond my BSN with the GI Bill. However, recent revelations regarding sexual harassment and assault have me justifiably CONCERNED! Iíve been married for more than 7 years and I have no interest in put myself, my husband, my career, or my future at risk. Nevertheless, according to recent serious documentaries and many serious sources, sexual harassment and sexual assault happen VERY frequently in the military. For instance, according to the Department of Defense, ďsexual assault occurred an average of more than 70 per day in the United States military during 2012Ē. Also, according to NY Daily News, in 2011 the Pentagon argued that rape and sexual assault are considered to be an ďoccupational hazardĒ in the military. Iím aware of the fact that I shouldnít put myself under any kind of risk. For example, avoid drinking (in fact I donít drink) and/or being alone with male coworkers. A terrible situation like this could happen in the civilian world too, but one never expects this to happen while you are serving your country. Thus, Iíd be very thankful to know if any of you have (or even know about someone else who has) experienced sexual assault in the military. Please let me know of your experience as an RN in the military, the pros and cons, and of course if sexual harassment or sexual assault has ever been an issue for you.

    Thanks,
    Di.

    Links:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/0...n_3230248.html

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/nati...icle-1.1145101
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  4. 10 Comments so far...

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    Moved to our Government / Military Nursing forum for advice from our military members.
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    Oh boy. Where to begin. Sexual assault and harrassment is grossly under-reported. I have experienced sexual assault & harrassment and seen it occur multiple times. Nothing terribly violent but still otherwise annoying. I'd like to think that it is something that happens mostly in the enlisted ranks but I think that would be very naive. Most times it's just the taunts and inappropriate comments. Men teasing the lesser masculine men, calling them princess and fairy. The comments to me weren't as offensive but the constant proposals for sex were very irritating. There's a lot of grooming behaviors. A lewd joke here, an unwelcomed shoulder rub there... all to test out your tolerance for their behavior. There's an Army base nearby and I've seen the way men force themselves onto unknowing civilian girls (and sometimes girls in their unit too). If you're a strong woman who is aware of the risks, I'd say you'll be okay. Know what you're okay with and not okay with. Set firm limits. And don't be afraid to call someone out on their unwelcomed behavior. If you really need the approval of your peers and will do anything to get it, watch out. If you're prone to over drinking and doing things you'll regret, or worse, can't remember: Watch out. Sexual predators pick people who are vulnerable and not willing to confess. As with every organization, it all depends on your command. Some will have zero tolerance and not allow those behaviors. Some will turn a blind eye and blame the victim. And everything in between.
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    There are predators everywhere, not only in the military. I am a SANE nurse and an Army nurse, and I have seen many cases of alleged sexual assault. I haven't experienced it personally, knock on wood, but I am deployed and my weapon never leaves my side.

    A lot of the alleged assaults I've encountered occur in the barracks or at parties where there is far too much alcohol. I cannot stress enough how much alcohol is a factor in so many cases. Not that I'm blaming the brew, mind you, but it's a HUGE factor. For an officer who doesn't live in the barracks and isn't partying down with a bunch of folks who are drunk, you'd probably be okay. No guarantees, of course ... like I said, predators are everywhere, not just in the military.
    NRSKarenRN and Sw88tpea like this.
  8. 1
    I came into Navy nursing over a year ago. Just last week I received required sexual assault training. In my work environment I do not feel concerned with this. I work on the cardiac unit in my hospital, I work a 12 hour shift, side by side with other military and civilian nurses. I would be doing the same thing in the civilian world. I would say that it seems there is higher risk on ships/closed spaces and personally I know more enlisted people than officers that have had issues.

    Navy nurses generally will not see ship life unless they apply after being at least 6 years in. If you wanted to come in for a 4-6 year contract you would be in hospitals most likely. Also currently with deployments there is a... wait list (for lack of better words), people put their names in to request deployments.

    At training I never experienced sexual harassment.

    I would not let this deter you from joining. If you feel called to serve we would be happy to have you. This issue now being in the media will only aid in people's awareness and abilities to prevent bad things from happening.
    runnergirl86 likes this.
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    Hi Adgesmeraldiamond,
    Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question, I really appreciate it!!! From what you said, it seems like most people would encounter sexual harassment in the military at one time or another, but it’s up to them to set clear limits and don’t become an “easy target” for sexual predators. It’s sad that situations like this could happen, but at the same time I’m glad that the news outlets are informing the public of the problem.

    Thank you,
    Di
  10. 1
    Hi LunahRN,
    I’m so thankful you took the time to write a comment, especially because you’re a SANE nurse. I truly hope that you don’t have any problems now that you are out of the country. Thanks for your advice; my husband always said that it’s safer and nicer to live off base (he was in the Air Force a long time ago), I don’t have a base of reference (I’m originally from another country and my family has nothing to do with the military). Regarding alcohol consumption, I don’t drink so I guess that is something I don’t have to worry too much about.
    I’m going to start reading your blog…!
    Thank you,
    Di
    Pixie.RN likes this.
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    Hi Sw88tpea,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my concerns. I’m glad you feel safe where you work. I’d love to work in a cardiac unit!
    I guess the media want people to become aware of the dangers, and I’m thankful for what they are doing. It’s necessary to let people know of this shameful situation, maybe this way it could be better controlled.

    Thank you,

    Di
  12. 0
    I was in the Army 1993-1997 active duty and yes, I believed I was raped/sexually assaulted. Normally someone does not get drunk enough off of two beers to be walked back to a barracks aided by a male to then pass out and not recollect that same male walking out of my room with his shoes in hand. The latter was reported by another person down the hall, to which I was repremanded and recieved an Article 15. I was young, very nieve, and put myself into too many risky situations, and wished I had someone higher up who would have told me I should have been tested or should have turned him in.

    I also have had other females report things to me, not quite to the extent I experienced. I am now a nurse in the VA system and I love working with these guys. I have also done some SANE nursing, and look forward to maybe doing that again in the future (our ER where I am now is just too small, not enough cases to put together a program so we would ship them out if they come in).

    Would I do it over again, yes every time. I have gained so many advantages from just joining the military that the issues I experienced pale in comparison. I was able to get through my ADN without owing anything, it gave me a much stronger work ethic, allowed me to "grow up" so to speak, and it showed me how strong I can be.
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    I worked as a civilian RN for 2 1/2 years before commissioning into the Navy. I actually feel that my risk of being sexually assaulted has gone DOWN since being in the military. I highly respect those I work with (military and civilian, officers and enlisted) and do not put myself in a situation that may compromise my position or career in the Navy. I do feel there may be a higher risk when deployed/sea duty versus being on shore duty. I also think that there have been a lot of reports on military sexual assault cases, yet where are all of the statistics on sexual assault in the civilian workplace? My husband is also in the Navy and we feel comfortable and safe in this profession. The largest thing to remember is SITUATIONAL AWARENESS and not to put yourself in a compromising situation (i.e. go with someone else, watch out for others, if you feel uncomfortable not to remain silent, go up your chain of command). There are many things to consider when deciding to commission into the military and this is something to discuss with your family and take time to decide if it is right for you. The best of luck and welcome to the world of nursing in DEC.
    twinmommy+2 likes this.


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