POLITICS
03/01/2013 05:42 pm ET | Updated Mar 01, 2013

National Review Columnist: Veterans Who Were Raped Now Struggling Because Of 'Bad Decision-Making'

A columnist for conservative site the National Review Online has written a piece suggesting female soldiers who have been raped struggle after they leave the military because of their own bad decisions.

Heather Mac Donald wrote the piece Thursday as a rebuttal of sorts to The New York Times' in-depth feature on military sexual trauma, which was published Wednesday.

In its piece, The Times describes the pain of veterans, such as Tiffany Jackson, who was raped by a fellow service member in South Korea and has since struggled with homelessness, addiction and depression.

As The Huffington Post previously reported, a servicewoman was nearly 180 times more likely to suffer a military sexual assault (MSA) in 2012 than to have died while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most recent report by the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office notes that the majority of these assaults go unreported.

Jackson, who did not report her rape, eventually fought for and received disability compensation for post-traumatic stress as a result of the sexual assault, according to The Times, but for years was unable to find steady work or housing. She also spent three years in jail for drug dealing.

Mac Donald, however, floats a different theory as to the reasons behind some of these veterans' problems:

Now here is a tentative alternative hypothesis: Some of these women come from environments that made their descent into street life overdetermined, whether or not they experienced alleged sexual assault in the military. To blame alleged sexual assault for their fate rather than their own bad decision-making is ideologically satisfying, but mystifying. Having children out of wedlock, as a huge proportion of them do, also does not help in avoiding poverty and homelessness.

Mac Donald also inaccurately describes MST as a recent acronym for "that debilitating condition that befalls female service members who have allegedly been the victim of sexual assault by their fellow service members."

However, the term is used by the Department of Veteran Affairs to "refer to sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment." The Boston Globe reports that the VA actually began screening for MST in 2002 and offers a variety of treatment options for veterans who suffer from it.

The Times piece, Mac Donald concludes, ultimately proves women should not be in combat situations at all. (In January, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta cleared the way for women to take front lines jobs.) If women can't handle the stress of sexual assault, then they certainly can't handle enemy fire, Mac Donald argues, adding "And do the feminists believe that there will be fewer of these alleged rapes in combat training and duty?"

What do you think of Mac Donald's comments? Leave your thoughts below.

(h/t ThinkProgress)

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