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Military bullies note: New policy means marks on records

A new Pentagon policy means military members who harass or bully people on the job, or online can now be sure of a permanent mark on their service records.

(Ivan Cholakov)

The military members who harass or bully people on the job, or online can now be sure of a permanent mark on their record, according to a new Pentagon policy on sexual harassment.

The policy is announced Thursday pulls together a complicated mix of rules with regard to sexual harassment, bullying, hazing, and other forms of hostile online behavior and discrimination at the workplace. The purpose is to clarify the process for victims to submit complaints and ensure that those responsible are held to account for their actions.

The revision comes almost a year after an online nude photo sharing scandal rocked the marine Corps. The safeguards of criminal investigation forced leaders across all military services for the creation of more powerful social media standards. The scandal showed how difficult it is for the track or the application of inappropriate behaviour by the military in the largely anonymous online universe.

Pentagon said that the consolidation of various harassment policies will make it easier for victims to report problems, find help and see the consequences for the perpetrators. Up to now, a number of members of the military involved in such actions could be faced with the punishment, but then see no mention of the violations to be removed from their records.

The military services have 60 days to develop plans to put in place of the policy.

“We have a sexual harassment policy, we have a memo that clarifies the response and reporting of sexual harassment, we have rules and regulations about hazing and bullying, we have a policy that relates to discriminatory harassment,” said Elise Van Winkle, the Pentagon, the main driver for strength resilience. “What this does is pull them together to cover all forms of harassment.”

An important change concerns clearer guidelines on how a military member can report harassment, in particular, for the troops, who belong to one department, but work in a job that is reporting to another service. Soldiers of the army, for example, can the work on an air base in the foreign country and report from an Air Force commander. A Navy officer working at the U.S. Pacific Command, the air force or the Navy on the staff.

The new policy will allow the troops to file complaints about sexual harassment, where they feel most comfortable, but their own service would offer them support. An alleged perpetrator would be likely to go through the judicial system. If found guilty, he or she will receive a punishment of his or her own service.

The standardizing of the rules “helps to increase the effectiveness of this policy when we put them on the field,” Van Winkle said.

She said that the services will need to set up 24-hour hotlines for sexual harassment complaints and questions. Most services have hotlines for sexual harassment, but this extends the obligation to eliminate all forms of bad behavior.

“We owe our service members every protection we can give them,” said Robert Wilkie, undersecretary of defense for personnel. “While this policy is not perfect, it is a crucial milestone in the department’s efforts to harassment and are fully prepared for the whole force to protect the nation.”

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