Veterans’ Group Says Supporting Victims Of Marines United Scandal Should Be DOD’s First Priority

Jonah Bennett | Contributor

Vietnam Veterans of America condemned the Marines who participated in the Marines United nude photo scandal and pushed Saturday for the Department of Defense (DOD) to make victims its number one priority.

“It’s hard to imagine how someone in uniform could have so little respect for their colleagues and for their service that they would engage in this despicable campaign of cyber bullying,” said John Rowan, national president and CEO of Vietnam Veterans of America, in a statement. “We’re calling on the Department of Defense not only to focus on investigations of this behavior, but to make supporting victims as their number one priority.”

Reveal News and The War Horse found the Department of Defense was investigating hundreds of Marines who shared pictures of nude female service members and made obscene comments about them in a 30,000-strong group called Marines United.

The reaction has been fierce, with both Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Secretary of Defense James Mattis loudly denouncing the actions of these Marines and pledging a swift clean-up.

California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier has called on Mattis to fire any Marines involved in the picture-sharing scandal.

For Rowan, while going after the Marines responsible is certainly laudable, the DOD should focus its primary attention on the women affected.

“While we welcome Secretary of Defense Mattis and General Robert Neller’s condemnations of those involved in posting these photos and the tens of thousands of bystanders who condoned the behavior, we remain concerned that too little is being done to support the women who have been the victims of this outrageous behavior,” Rowan added.

A defense official told Military.com on Friday that the Marine Corps may give women access to reputation management software, so they can scrub the internet of any negative references arising out of the Marines United debacle.

 Neller also said Friday that the Corps is creating a task force to monitor the ongoing investigation and to ensure that the victims receive proper support.

Rowan stated that when discussing the investigation, the DOD should mention the fact that survivors of Military Sexual Trauma are entitled to free counseling at the Department of Veterans Affairs, regardless of whether the MST was reported while on active-duty.

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