I posted this in GD earlier, but it sank like a rock. I'm reposting it here because I think it's a very important issue,
Many, many women who serve in the military are women from lower-income families, women of color, gay or bisexual women. The military is a way for these women to have a career where they can get a college degree, learn a trade, have medical and housing and other benefits. It's a way out of poverty, being trapped in a minimum wage job, so many other things.
I do want to say that enlisted aren't the only ones abused. NCOs, CWOs, and Officers are certainly harassed and assaulted. As are students at all of the service academies. The Air Force Academy has been notorious for this.
Sexual assault and extreme sexual harassment is so rife in the military, there's even an ACRONYM for it now. The latest stats from the VHA says 22% of female vets and 1.2% of male vets were victims of this. Please remember that, like any sexual assault and harassment stats, they are woefully under reported.
"Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is the term that the Department of Veterans Affairs uses to refer to sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that occurred while the Veteran was in the military. It includes any sexual activity where someone is involved against her or his will – she or he may have been pressured into sexual activities (for example, with threats of negative consequences for refusing to be sexually cooperative or with implied faster promotions or better treatment in exchange for sex), may have been unable to consent to sexual activities (for example, when intoxicated), or may have been physically forced into sexual activities. Other experiences that fall into the category of MST include unwanted sexual touching or grabbing; threatening, offensive remarks about a person’s body or sexual activities; and/or threatening or unwelcome sexual advances."