Women of War- Exposing a Tragedy

Movies — By on May 30, 2013 at 5:09 am

Cover photo-Phil Valentine (L) and Kimberly Olson. Inside photo- Phil Valentine. Both photos by Leagh Sachs.

By Buddy Sampson

Beverly Hills, CA- May 22, 2013- A reception and screening for the documentary, “Women of War” took place in a location in Beverly Hills to promote and screen the film. “Women of War” (WOW) is a sometime tender, sometimes brutal look at the pride and pain that America’s female fighting force encounters when they choose to charge front and center in some of America’s most horrific battles. It also examines how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) manifests itself differently in women and questions why little is being done to reduce the accelerating rates of homelessness, substance abuse, divorce and suicide among America’s bravest women.

Produced by the filmmakers of the award winning 2009 documentary “Who Will Stand” “Women of War” examines what strides have been made since their “Who Will Stand” first brought these relatively unknown issues to the American public. Phil Valentine, who produced the film, found some troublesome statistics about female soldiers. “Women now make up over 20% of the military,” he said. ”Once we got women in a group, they were very nervous at first, and we weren’t doing a documentary on military sexual trauma at first, we were going to look at how women manifest PTSD differently than men in combat. The first woman we talked to broke down and talked about having being raped in boot camp.” From that encounter, the woman suggested he talk to other women and inquire if they have been a victim of sexual trauma or assault. Valentine’s findings were eye opening. “We interviewed about 100 women and every one of them except 2 said they had been harassed and most of them had been assaulted. And that’s when we changed the focus of the documentary to military sexual trauma.”

Kimberly Olson, a retired Air Force Colonel, who attended the event and was a speaker, feels strongly about this issue. “I’m interviewed in the film,” said Kim Olson. “So I think it’s important to give a voice to women veterans. I think it’s important to remind the public that women have served for many years, especially in the last ten years doing combat. It is also important in our progress as a society that we make sure that violence against women is stopped, even within our own armed services. And sometimes it takes a hard look, shining a light in a place that’s kind of a corner and we need to fix it and this is how social change happens.”    

The statistics on sexual assault in the military is at an all-time high. One-third of women in the military said they were sexually harassed, a number 500% higher than their male counterparts, according to the latest Pentagon survey. The data was compiled by the Defense Manpower Data Center from a survey of 24,000 service members.

In 2010, nearly 2700 sexual assaults were reported by people in uniform. But the looming question remains, how many were not reported? From a recent investigation, 80% of sexual assaults in the military are NOT reported so how many women in our military are being sexually harassed, assaulted and traumatized and more importantly, why is the military not doing more to protect them?

“I don’t want people to think that the military is enlisting sexual predators,” said Valentine. “I don’t want to bash the military. I’m very proud of our military. I think people need to understand what happens so they are motivated to fix it. So once the public understands the issue, they’ll know how to help.”

For more information about the documentary, visit www. womenofwardocumentary.com/.

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