by Matthew Rowe
"The Invisible War"
There is nothing enjoyable about the must-watch film "The Invisible War." This is not a comfortable film, but it is an important film showing the prevalence of sexual assault and rape in the United States Military. We see the lives of people who have lived with not only physical and emotional damage from the trauma, but have not seen justice served by the military court system that differs from our civilian system. The stories told are heartbreaking, sickening and should not be ignored.
Kori Cioca planned on being a career marine until her rapist struck her in the face so hard that her jaw was broken in several places. Denied long-term treatment and bone replacement by the VA hospitals, Kori feels a betrayal by both the commanding officer that raped her and the military she proudly served for that is unable or unwilling to provide care or justice.
Cioca's story is just one of many, from both women and men who deal with similar pain every day. By showing us all these stories, told by the victims and families of the victims, filmmaker Kirby Dick gives a very human face to statistics provided by government reports. And those statistics are staggering. More than one out of every five women in the military has been sexually assaulted. An estimated 80 percent of victims do not report, often because the person they would report to is their attacker. Less than five percent of those reported are convicted.
The movie follows several former soldiers, including Cioca, as they pursue a class action lawsuit against the government for allowing a culture of sexual abuse to exist. When a title on the screen reports a lower court's opinion that rape is an occupational hazard of military service, we're crestfallen.
Two days before this movie premiered, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ordered changes to the policy of reporting sexual assaults through the chain of command, citing "The Invisible War" as one reason for his decision. While this is a start, watching this film will leave any viewer wanting more action to stop a horrific culture that has marginalized and victimized countless soldiers.
"The Invisible War," however, is not just about the problem in the military. Confronting rape and sexual assault is a discussion many people do not want to have because it is uncomfortable. By seeing these men and women come forward, by bravely showing their faces, any one can begin to empathize with others dealing with the trauma following sexual assault, and the hard steps that must be taken to regain some sense of normalcy.
For a culture of people so ready to give lip service to soldiers and veterans, it is our duty to watch this film and be informed. If we can give "KONY 2012" significant attention, "The Invisible War" certainly deserves to be on our lips.