Hartford, Conn. (October 22, 2012) -- Kirby Dick, an Oscar and Emmy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker, was on hand at Cinestudio on the campus of Trinity College Thursday evening for a screening of The Invisible War
, an investigative documentary detailing sexual misconduct in the military, and the judicial process under which the cases are evaluated and adjudicated.
Trinity President James F. Jones, Jr. and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, delivered opening remarks to a crowd of nearly 200 people. Jones introduced Blumenthal, who applauded the College for hosting the event, before praising the filmmaker for his work, which has already affected the workings of the military judicial system, and has empowered hundreds of sexually assaulted women and men to make their voices heard. One member of the military who had been the victim of an assault drove from New York to personally thank Dick during the question-and-answer session, which followed the filmmaker’s remarks.
Jones, who commended Blumenthal’s leadership and dedication to this and other important issues, encouraged the students in attendance to consider that they too could one day be U.S. Senators. But Blumenthal (pictured) told them that they do not need to be a U.S. Senator to speak out about the issues raised in the documentary. Blumenthal, who was elected to the Senate in 2010, is a member of the Armed Services Committee.
“No responsible member of our military condones what you’re about to see,” Blumenthal said before the screening of The Invisible War
. “[The members of the armed forces that do commit sexual assault] are an exception, but one that happens too frequently, and it needs to stop. It has to stop.”
As summarized by U.S. News
, The Invisible War
includes testimony from dozens of women and a few men whose experiences in the armed forces included not just rape, but institutional retaliation; former judge advocate general officers; investigators who speak of being instructed to treat victims like criminals; and lawmakers frustrated with decades of Pentagon stonewalling.
Following the film, Dick was joined on the panel by Yolande Goodman, a former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps and a survivor; Maureen Gard, a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps and a survivor; and Laura Cordes, executive director of the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS). Although the film resulted in changes in the military judicial system regarding sexual assault, the panelists acknowledged that much work still needs to be done.
Dick suggests that the judicial system change hands completely, to the civilian court; that the military go after the predators; and that the victims get the same treatment as wounded soldiers.
“It’s been freeing in a way,” Goodman said about the increased visibility directed toward the issue as a result of the film. “I did not want to [speak up about it when it happened], because I thought I would die if I did.”
Despite this, Goodman and Gard both expressed satisfaction with their decision to join the military. Gard says she still proudly wears her U.S. military sweatshirt and sweatpants. Goodman said it helped her find strength in herself.
“I loved my time in the Marine Corps,” Goodman said. “I don’t regret my time there, but I wouldn’t tell my daughter to join.”
Gard said that if her daughter wanted to join, she would not tell her she couldn’t, but she would make sure that she was educated about the experiences that she and others have had, both negative and positive. For more information on the film and to see how you can get involved, visit: http://invisiblewarmovie.com/.