American Legion News Clips 5.1.20

Good morning, Legionnaires and veterans advocates, it’s Friday, May 1, 2020. Yes, it’s only (finally?) May.
I’m sure many of us are still working from home, and if you’re like me, you’re getting as much delivered as you can. I just ordered a chicken and an egg. I’ll let you know which comes first.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

  • Military Times: mseavey with “Remove” in the subject line. If you have received this from someone who forwarded it and would like to be added, email mseavey.

    Military Times: April saw VA coronavirus cases jump four-fold, deaths up 8 times

    Leo Shane III | 21 hours ago

    Veterans Affairs health workers closed April with another grim coronavirus milestone: More than 8,000 patients within the system have tested positive for the fast-spreading illness.

    As of Thursday morning, 8,526 individuals in VA care had contracted the illness. That’s an increase of about 8 percent in the last 24 hours alone, and up 40 percent in the last week.

    At the start of April, the Veterans Health Administration had reported only about 1,600 cases, meaning the total has risen more than four times over the last 30 days.

    The sharp rises mirror the rest of the United States. Earlier this week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials announced that the number of cases across the country had topped 1 million, and the number of deaths had topped 60,000 — more than the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War.

    Deaths among VA patients have also risen sharply in recent days and weeks. The department reported 494 deaths as of Thursday morning, an increase of 37 in the last 48 hours and more than 100 in the last week.

    On April 1, VA had reported only 53 fatalities related to coronavirus complications. That means deaths have increased eight-fold in the last month.

    Department employees have tested more than 95,000 individuals for the illness, although officials have not publicly updated that total in several days.

    In addition, more than 2,000 employees have tested positive for the illness. Twenty have died.

    On Wednesday night, congressional Democrats and union officials held an online forum to discuss problems they have seen with supplies (in particular, a lack of personal protective equipment) at VA facilities.

    Department leaders have acknowledged shortfalls in recent days but announced on Tuesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would supply shipments of more than 4.3 million various types of respirator masks, 1 million facial/surgical masks, 1.5 million gloves and 14,000 face shields to VA facilities across the country.

    On Thursday, for the first time in two weeks, the death rate among VA patients who have contracted the illness fell below 6 percent. That figure has been as high as 6.5 percent in recent days, and now sits close to the national rate of about 5.7 percent.

    Worldwide, more than 228,000 individuals have died from the fast-spreading virus.

    About 1 in every 14 people who test positive for coronavirus have eventually died from complications. In the United States alone, that figure is closer to one in 17 individuals.

    However, health officials have said that the actual infection rate for the virus may be much higher than publicly known, because of the lack of testing available in many areas and the unknown number of asymptomatic carriers.

    Military.com: Troops, Families Say They’re Worried About Planned Changes to Military Health System

    30 Apr 2020 | Military.com | By Patricia Kime

    Military families are worried that with changes coming to the military health system that include outsourcing some care to community providers, they won’t be able to find quality providers or access decent care.

    In some locations, families already are facing problems, said members of the Defense Department’s Military Family Readiness Council Wednesday. For example, at Newport, R.I., military personnel face difficulties finding good pediatricians for their children, while in Europe, service members and their dependents have had trouble accessing mental health services, including via telemedicine.

    They also worry that as the Defense Department pursues plans to restructure the military health system, the problems will get worse.

    "We are having difficulty finding quality providers that are in the network. Is there anything being done to encourage civilian providers to participate with Tricare, or is there any real incentive for them to work with Tricare?" asked Jill Waters, a pediatric nurse and wife of an Army recruiter in Michigan, speaking to Defense Health Agency Director Lt. Gen. Ronald Place.

    "We’re just not sure what the future will hold," added Carolyn Stevens, director of DoD’s office of Military Family Readiness Policy.

    Since 2013, the Defense Department has undertaken efforts to restructure what was once a $50 billion health care system. The stated goal of the effort is to improve services while reducing costs by cutting redundant programs and systems that existed in triplicate under separate Army, Navy and Air Force medical commands.

    But that effort grew substantially under the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which gave administrative authority of military hospitals and clinics to the Defense Health Agency and subsequently realigned the service medical commands to shift their focus toward caring primarily for active-duty personnel.

    The transformation plans call for reducing the number of civilian beneficiaries, including retirees and their family members, seen at military hospitals in locations where comparable health care services are available in the local community under Tricare.

    But as DHA and the services pursue these sea changes, troops and families are trying to sort out what health care services will be available down the road.

    Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black said Wednesday that changes at Naval Hospital Beaufort, S.C., which serves Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, have put the Marine Corps in the position of relying on community care for its recruits.

    The aging hospital facility had already closed its emergency room and urgent care facilities. Under the DHA transformation plans, it’s slated to become an outpatient ambulatory care clinic with no overnight beds.

    Marine officials have been concerned that personnel will face long wait times for emergency care at the local hospital or recruits will need to be transported to major medical centers farther away.

    "I use [the recruit depot] as one example to highlight some of the challenges we’re looking at with network care … having to rely on a civilian facility, there are challenges," Black said. "As we go through this over time, as we develop, how do we see this as being a priority? How does the military leadership influence the civilian leadership of those hospitals? How do we balance out major level training as a priority, accessions as a priority?" Black said.

    Families also said they not only had questions about access to care but how they were supposed to meet military medical requirements such as being cleared for travel for overseas orders or qualifying for the Exceptional Family Member Program under a new system.

    Place sought to assuage concerns, first noting that he, his wife, children and grandchildren are all beneficiaries in the military and Tricare systems.

    "When I look at quality in our system, safety in our system, access or transparency, everywhere I look, I look at it as a surgeon, but I look at it as a patient, as a husband, as a parent and as a grandparent … I also understand the stress the entire family bears," he said.

    He added that medical requirements for families will be improved once the process for meeting them is standardized across the services — one of the goals of transformation.

    "We’re not there yet, but I fully understand the requirements to the Defense Health Agency standardize the process,” Place said.

    Regarding concerns over the availability and quality of providers in the Tricare networks, Place said several regulations restrict DoD’s ability to recruit doctors or work with hospital systems directly, including on the contracts for managed care with Humana Military and Health Net Federal Services, the companies that oversee Tricare, and reimbursement rates linked to Medicare rates.

    "In general, those hospitals and doctors … that are in our networks are doing it out of a sense of patriotism. They are not making huge cash off of us," Place said. "We try to extol the virtues of our patient populations, that they are generally healthy, that they are motivated, that they are patriotic themselves. [And] in many areas of the country that’s actually a successful marketing tool for which we are able to get high quality hospitals and practitioners. The limitations [are] where the market is tight, [the rates] can harm us."

    How the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the system’s overhaul has yet to be determined. On March 25, Defense Health Agency officials said they decided to delay the next step in the reforms — establishing administrative markets responsible for military treatment facilities in five regions across the U.S.

    But Place said he wishes the transformation could move more quickly and the plan will maintain "greater access to high quality care for every single beneficiary."

    After the meeting — the first Military Family Readiness Council meeting held virtually — Patty Barron, a council member and director of the family readiness directorate at the Association of the United States Army, said she appreciated Place’s overview but said military families are craving specifics.

    She added that the "’What’s next?’ was not answered.

    "Military families will deal with what you tell them if you can be as specific as possible," she said, saying she was speaking as a spouse and not for the council. "What we need is a FAQ on this. We have one for COVID-19, why not for this?”

    Associated Press: ‘Is my dad alive?’: Outrage as deaths mount at veterans home

    By Alanna Durkin Richer | AP | April 30, 2020 at 8:33 p.m. EDT

    Desperate for information as coronavirus deaths mounted at the Massachusetts veterans home where her father lived, Susan Kenney drove there with her question written in big letters on her car window: “Is my dad alive?”

    He was. But not for long.

    Kenney’s father and 70 others who served their country have died after contracting the virus at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in what has become the deadliest known outbreak at a long-term care facility in the U.S. As state and federal officials investigate what went wrong, outrage is building among family members and workers who say leadership failed to protect the veterans and allowed the virus to spread unchecked.

    “Somebody screwed up there,” Kenney said, choking back tears. “Somebody needs to be held responsible.”

    Officials and health care workers at the state-run home are now racing to curb the spread of the disease while tending to the roughly 100 veterans who remain there. Dozens of residents have been moved away, including about 30 to a nursing unit at Holyoke Medical Center. In addition to the dead, about 80 other veterans and 80 employees have contracted the virus, officials said.

    The home’s superintendent was placed on administrative leave on March 30 and the CEO of Western Massachusetts Hospital, Val Liptak, took over operations.

    This week, eight “coaches” were brought into the home to ensure staff are using personal protective equipment properly, officials said. And dozens of National Guard members have been sent there to help, but staffers say it’s too little, too late.

    “The truth is the damage has already been done,” said Kwesi Ablordeppey, a certified nursing assistant who has worked there for about 20 years. “All we can do now is do our best to salvage,” he said.

    Workers said they weren’t given adequate personal protective gear at the beginning of the outbreak and management didn’t properly isolate the first veteran to test positive for COVID-19. Staffing shortages that employees have been complaining about for years helped the virus spread quickly as nurses were forced to move from unit to unit to help out, they said.

    “We sounded the alarm. The state knew… and nobody wanted to listen to us,” said Joe Ramirez, another staffer who contracted the virus himself. “Unfortunately this virus hits and now they are looking into it,” said Ramirez, vice president of the union that represents many of the facility’s workers.

    The home’s superintendent, Bennett Walsh, has defended his response and accused state officials of falsely claiming they weren’t notified quickly enough about the spread of the virus. His lawyer, William Bennett, said Wednesday that Walsh wants to let investigations into the home unfold before commenting further.

    For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

    The dead include World War II veterans and those who served during the wars in Korea and Vietnam. They were husbands, fathers and grandfathers, already weakened by other health issues, and in need of camaraderie and a quiet place to spend the remainder of their lives.

    When Kenney heard about the problems at the home, she started frantically calling to get details about her father, Charlie Lowell, she said. After failing to get a hold of anyone for hours, she took a blue grease pencil and wrote on her car window: “Is my dad alive? Shame on Soldiers Home. Over 30 hours with no call back.”

    When she arrived at the home, she shouted at a woman wearing scrubs: “Who the hell is in charge here?” Kenney said.

    Lowell, 78, died on April 15, nearly two weeks after Kenney drove her car to the home searching for answers. The Air Force veteran was an air launch missile guide technician for the 17th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron until 1965 before working at IBM. He leaves behind a wife of almost 60 years.

    To Keri Rutherford, it had looked like her father was going to be one the lucky ones to escape the virus. Francis “Fran” Foley, an 84-year-old Army veteran, initially tested negative and was moved to the Holyoke Medical Center with others who didn’t have COVID-19, she said. But soon, he was running a 104 degree fever. Days later, he died.

    “I think a lot of people have the mindset, ‘Oh, they were old. They already had issues,’” Rutherford said. “It’s almost like because they were old and in a nursing home, it didn’t really matter,” she said.

    Several investigations into the deaths are underway.

    Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said she is looking into whether legal action is warranted. And the Massachusetts U.S. attorney’s office and Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division are investigating whether officials violated residents’ rights by failing to provide them proper medical care.

    Family members say they are hopeful those investigations will provide answers and perhaps justice. The veterans deserved to be protected by the country they gave so much of their lives to, they say.

    “You’re dealing with a population who either volunteered or was drafted and throughout the duration of their lives have always put the welfare of others in front of themselves,” said state Rep. John Velis, a major in the Army Reserve who visited the home last week.

    “The least we can do for them as a commonwealth, the least we can do for them as a nation is to make sure that they can live a peaceful, safe remaining time period they have on this earth,” he said.

    Military Times: A culture that fosters sexual assaults and sexual harassment persists despite prevention efforts, a new Pentagon study shows

    Meghann Myers | 14 hours ago

    Any service member can repeat back what they’ve learned about preventing sexual assault in required training, but a study released by the Defense Department on Thursday shows that the military still has a long way to go when it comes to stamping out not only assaults, but the toxic and harassing command cultures that set the stage for sexual violence.

    The study was part of a congressionally mandated yearly report from the Pentagon. The study involved conducting focus groups to get the force’s feedback on the existing sexual assault prevention efforts to determine what’s working and what isn’t.

    That feedback reveals that young service members are as vulnerable as ever to unwanted advances both from their peers and authority figures. While they generally believe their senior leadership is committed to their safety, it’s mid- and junior-level leaders who are either not modeling proper behavior or are turning a blind eye when they see problems arise.

    “Today I bent over to get something. And I didn’t know there was anybody behind me,” a female junior enlisted Marine told one of the focus groups. "Bent over to grab something really quick and a sergeant is behind me and said, ‘Oh, don’t tempt me.’”

    Overall, the annual report found that sexual assault reports were up 3 percent in fiscal year 2019, for a total of 6,236. But Nate Galbreath, the deputy director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, said this year’s study did not ask service members to anonymously report assaults. “I can’t tell you whether or not the crime rate went up,” Galbreath told reporters.

    Surveys that ask troops to anonymously report sexual assaults are conducted on even-numbered years.

    Galbreath’s office estimates that the number of sexual assaults that are reported to authorities is now around 30 percent of total assaults committed, versus the 7 percent figure established when DoD first stood up the office more than a decade ago. “For the first 10 years of the program, we did see quite a bit of progress,” he said, estimating that the prevalence of sexual assaults fell from about 34,000 in 2006 to 14,000 in 2016. “But then in 2018, we came to you and we saw an uptick in the rates, largely in women.”

    And especially women ages 18 to 24, during their first terms of service.

    One junior enlisted female Marine told a focus group: “When I first got here, all the people in my shop specifically, they live on third deck and I got put on first deck. … And when I asked why, they said it’s because I was going to get raped if I lived on third deck.”

    The Pentagon’s Office of People Analytics conducted 61 focus groups last fall, speaking to 493 service members ― including some local sexual assault and harassment prevention advocates ― at eight installations.

    Dozens of anecdotes included in the report show that for many troops, a culture of weekend binge drinking coupled with apathetic ― or even predatory ― supervisors continues to plague the services.

    “One of our prevention efforts over the past year focused on preparing leaders at all levels to better reach our youngest service members who are most at risk,” Galbreath said in a statement. “Helping our newest enlisted leaders and supervisors create healthy unit climates will benefit our military and all those who serve.”

    Reports of harassment increased 10 percent in 2019, he told reporters.

    “I think over the last few years, the Navy’s taken a big step toward sexual assault prevention," a male senior enlisted sailor told a focus group. "And it’s every time you turn around, we’re having to do some type of All Hands Call, face-to-face trainings. They do SAPR Awareness months, and while it may not be 100-percent effective, I think the effort that they are putting into it, and the amount of time, money, and training I think they’re pushing it as hard as they can.”

    But it’s down at the lower levels, according to the report, where the message isn’t always put into practice.

    “We see it in our annual trainings, kind of the requirement that we got to check off,” a female junior Marine officer told a focus group. "But where I would like to see it is people actually calling each other out for stuff that influences the culture of that. Like being okay with people saying really [derogatory] things towards men or women in that case and be like, ‘Hey, let’s keep that out of the workplace.’ I haven’t seen that.”

    ‘Bad choices’

    While the research shows that junior enlisted troops have respect for their senior leaders, those younger troops say it is their the mid-level enlisted leaders who are sometimes failing to set the tone and police unacceptable behavior.

    “…participants indicated that leaders who allow inappropriate behaviors to persist and who participants perceived to not care about preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment create an unhealthy environment for coworkers, lowers the standard for acceptable behaviors, and allows for the escalation of inappropriate behaviors, such as lewd comments and jokes,” according to the report.

    And troops notice how much or how little their leaders do in the face of harassment.

    “I think people take sexual assault way more seriously… People have banter and they’re like, ‘It’s harmless, it’s just talk.’ Sexual harassment culture leads to sexual assault, so when something bad actually happens, then it’s actually taken seriously,” a junior male enlisted airman told a focus group.

    Per focus group feedback, there are environments within the force where not only are supervisors taking advantage of their junior troops, they are methodical about it.

    “Seniors grooming their subordinates and making those targets of opportunity happen,” one Army SHARP coordinator told a focus group. "For instance, I’m a senior, I’m going to make you feel special, I’m taking you through the grooming process, then I’m going to invite myself or create a poker game at your residence, and I’m going to invite everybody. However, when I get there, I am going to target you. I’m going to get your spouse totally ripped, drunk, and they’re going to pass out, then I’m going to take advantage of you.”

    Sexual harassment has been identified as part of that grooming process, as DoD research has shown that command climates identified as toxic, especially where harassment is concerned, have a high correlation with sexual assaults.

    “In general, participants indicated that sexual harassment at their installations includes lower level behaviors such as staring, gawking, making sexual jokes or comments, sharing explicit images, and repeated attempts at unwanted relationships,” according to the report. “However, sexual harassment is not always identified correctly, and definitions of sexual harassment can differ among genders. Participants expressed that lower level sexual harassment behaviors are not always properly addressed when they occur due to service members’ perceptions that the behaviors are not serious or are harmless.”

    But that kind of behavior can and does escalate.

    “In the work center, usually that person says a joke. It may be somebody who has already said inappropriate jokes, and [they] look and see who reacts, who is offended, who doesn’t say anything, who laughs, and they know [how] far they can go," a Navy SAPR coordinator said. "They may go from a joke here to a touch there, and they just build that over time, so when the big thing happens, they were building up to that. That’s why they’re able to keep doing it, because then they know, ‘I know she’s not going to say anything. I know he’s just going to laugh.’”

    But that lack of understanding of what harassment looks like, and how to deal with it, can also apply to sexual assault.

    “With the younger sailors, they don’t necessarily know how to identify what actually is sexual assault or would be classified as harassment," a Navy SAPR coordinator said. "Some may think, ‘Oh, I got drunk this night. I don’t know what happened. I woke up in this other person’s bed or whatever the case may be.’ They don’t realize that that’s assault, as opposed to someone that’s been in for a little while longer, that have sat through enough bystander intervention trainings, that have gone through the different types of training, they know whether I remember it or not, I know I can’t say that I fully 100 percent consented to what happened last night.”

    Alcohol plays a major role in many military sexual assaults, as does the close quarters. For some, that’s just an accepted part of the culture.

    “First time away from home, for most of them. And you’re giving them a job, and then you’re like, ‘Hey, on the weekends, we’re going to put you in the middle of this complex where essentially everybody just parties. Okay, go. Don’t do anything bad.’ I mean, bad decisions are going to be made and it’s the nature of it," a male junior Marine officer said.

    “You can obviously do all the things that, as leaders, you should be to educate your Marines on how not to do things to put themselves or the Marine Corps, or any of their friends in a negative situation, but they’re 18- and 19-year-old kids, sometimes bad things are going to happen because sometimes you’re going to make dumb choices.”

    ‘The male gender’

    There are a few tropes you will hear, and that service members reported to the focus groups, when you ask how about SAPR training: one is that the check-the-block PowerPoint presentations just don’t resonate, and another is that they focus too much on male perpetrators and female victims.

    “I feel like it is heavily pressed upon the male gender to be in compliance with those regulations,” a male senior enlisted airman said. "And I feel as though in our culture it is not looked at enough about [female service members] and being the aggressors and heavily weighing on that in our culture. Sorry, but especially if you have male leadership, they tend to look the other way when it is a female [perpetrator] and they tend to just ignore it. It could be completely outright, explicit and they tend to ignore it more.”

    There is also not as much attention paid to male-on-male harassment and assault in training, largely because that often occurs in a hazing context, which the culture views as different from other assaults.

    “A lot of our male victim cases I’ve seen especially recently begins with them having a hazing. Things that we identify more as hazing and more certainly harassment, then leading up to what’s classified as the sexual assault," a Marine Corps SAPR coordinator said. "There is an opportunity there to notice or report that behavior at the other levels before it’s something that escalates and again, both specifically in male cases, we’ve seen the intent to haze and/or harass before its acted on.”

    While the vast majority of sexual assault reports filed each year involve a male perpetrator and a female victim, Pentagon research has estimated that while 43 percent of women report their assaults, only 17 percent of men do.

    Some estimates have placed the number of male survivors of military sexual assault are higher than that among women, partly a reflection of the fact there are simply more men in the military.

    “A lot of people talk about how many female [service members] get assaulted, but more male [service members] on this base get assaulted on a daily basis than female [service members] do. It’s one-a-day for male [service members] because of the grunt barracks," a female junior enlisted Marine said. "Men are [explicit] each other and they’re raping each other and that’s so [explicit] up and nobody wants to talk about that. And they feel underrepresented because in the Step Up training, all there is is this female [service member’s] getting assaulted at a party and no male [Service members] are being talked about at all.”

    Accountability

    The problems are compounded when troops feel like their disclosures aren’t taken seriously. Sometimes they aren’t believed, they said, but other times, the rank, gender or job title of the perpetrator seems like a free pass.

    “They say that there is a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to SHARP incidents, like if you sexually assault somebody, if you sexually harass somebody, automatically you’re getting kicked out. And that’s not always the case,” a female Army noncommissioned officer said. "You know, it’s happened where seniors are sexually harassing, sexually assaulting junior enlisted soldiers, whether that be junior officers, NCOs, period, junior soldiers. It’s happening. And their rank is being used to favor them like, ‘Oh, well they’re a lieutenant colonel’ or ‘they’re this, they’re that.’ Like it was a lapse in judgment.”

    “It’s like they say, ‘Oh, sexual assault isn’t tolerated.’ But then you have people who get charged with it and they’re still here and to me it’s like a joke," a female junior enlisted Marine said. "It’s basically saying [to] the victim, like, ‘Well, okay, I’m sorry for you, but this man he still deserves to have a job. He still deserves to be here.’ It’s like a laugh in the face honestly. It’s like a slap in the face too, I guess.”

    In 2018, then-Defense Secretary James Mattis issued a memo calling for commanding officers to flex their Uniform Code of Military Justice muscle, rather than falling back on administrative and non-judicial punishments to handle misconduct.

    His letter wasn’t just about sexual assaults, but it underscored a key aspect of tackling the issue.

    Lawmakers, notably Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, have in recent years called for sexual assault prosecutions to be taken out of the chain of command, arguing that COs have proven that they lack the will or the understanding to properly adjudicate sexual assaults.

    Criminal action, one metric to show how the military is handling the issue, was largely stagnant in 2019.

    Of 3,716 reports investigated in last year, 63 percent of them — or 2,339 cases — were recommended for commander action, according to the report. Of those, commanding officers took action on 1,629 cases, including 794 courts-martial, 360 non-judicial punishments and 474 adverse administration actions, including involuntary discharge from the service.

    While the number of courts-martial and NJPs stayed about steady from 2018, to 2019, Galbreath said, administrative actions rose ― indicating that in some cases, commanders were choosing to either slap perpetrators on the wrist or unload them from the service, rather than take harsher action.

    "I am tired of the statement I get over and over from the chain of command: ‘We got this, Ma’am. We got this,’ " Gillibrand told Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville in May 2019, after reading DoD’s 2018 SAPR report. “You don’t have it. You’re failing us. The trajectories of every measurable are going in the wrong direction.”

    ‘Healthy relationships’

    Another common piece of feedback about SAPR training is that it focuses too much on "what not to do."

    “SAPR/SHARP responder participants recommended incorporating trainings on how to have healthy relationships based on the common characteristics of sexual assault cases, including misunderstandings and trespassing on personal boundaries in both platonic and romantic relationships,” according to the report.

    That recommendation echoes some experts invited to speak at the Naval Academy last year, as it hosted a summit on campus sexual assault.

    Young people largely develop their attitudes and behavior around sexual relationships in high school, and may come onto campus or into the military having already survived a sexual assault or just not having any healthy reference for relationships.

    While the report does not delve into the root causes of these dynamics among service members, some of the focus group responses point to a pattern.

    “Although some male participants highlighted their female leadership as evidence that gender discrimination is not an issue at their installation, other male and female participants noted that gender discrimination at their installation or in their unit manifests in a number of different ways,” according to the report.

    Gendered physical fitness standards have long been a point of contention between male and female troops, using the fact that women can run more slowly and doing fewer push-ups as a sign of their inferiority.

    “Participants pointed to differences in physical fitness standards, female service members’ inaccessibility to certain ‘working’ jobs, and leadership favoritism of one gender over the other as recurring issues faced by male and female service members,” the reported continues. “Embodying different standards can create the perception that a promotion is not earned or that someone was placed in a particular job based on their gender rather than their qualifications.”

    Damaging stereotypes against women also abound.

    “Some participants pointed to their perception that female service members manipulate male service members and/or military systems to get ahead or avoid deployment,” according to the report. “These perceptions only add to workplace hostility and may continue systemic gender discrimination rather than to dispel gender-based misperceptions and bolster workplace camaraderie.”

    While that is a tougher battle to wage, Galbreath said that OPA is working on tools for commanders to get a better read on those types of damaging attitudes and behaviors in the context of command climate surveys they already undertake.

    “We want to make sure we’re providing commanders with more actionable information with regard to the climate challenges that their units face," he said.