Friday, October 16, 2015

Laura's Blog #1

I am a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. I served honorably for four years. The Marine Corps, unlike other branches, only has 7% of its population that are female. So I lived everyday in a male dominated society. While serving, I was raped and this isn’t uncommon. I know more women that were raped, than I do that were meritoriously promoted.

Years ago, at the birth of our country, a commander was given the power to determine the final punishment of a troop member that committed a crime. This practice goes back over 200 years. According to Headquarters Marine Corps, “Under the direction of the President, military commanders are responsible for maintaining law and order in the communities over which they have authority, and for maintaining the discipline of the fighting force,” they go on to say, “ The commander also possesses nonjudicial punishment authority under the procedures of Article 15, UCMJ. The commander may also determine that criminal charges are appropriate. The ‘preferral’ of charges, similar to "swearing out a complaint" in civilian jurisdictions, initiates the court-martial process.”

Here are some of the problems with the commander making the final decision. At the time this practice was enacted, a commander couldn’t throw a criminal on a plane home if on the battlefield and have them face a military court martial. Now they have this capability. If a commander is the rapist what does the service member do? Commanders should be more focused on preparing war fighters for the battle field than prosecuting.

I plan on proposing to remove this power from the commander in cases of sexual assault within the National Guard of North Carolina. California already follows this process with their National Guard.

-Laura Licata


  1. Hey, Laura. You clearly articulate the strengths of your beliefs. Can you send me the name of the group you said you were going to engage with to promote your initiative and how you believe they can assist you in your endeavors?

    So glad to have you as the Meredith WomenNC Fellow this year. Your potential to influence others is amazing.

  2. Thanks for that history. It is so complicated for civilians to understand how the military has defined and prioritized crimes. But it is clear that rape is a crime military justice has little compassion for.

  3. Nice use of sources! You've clearly done your research and that's already a massive benefit to helping you frame your topic, narrow down your organization pick, and focusing on your policy. If you can bring hard copies of the California model of this process, I would love to sit down with you and talk out the details of how this will factor into your own work and proposal.

  4. Laura - you've chosen a topic that I, and I think most people, simply do not know a lot or enough about and it's such an important issue. I look forward to learning more from your research and passing it along to as many as I can in my advocacy circles. Thank you for sharing your personal perspective and I'm looking forward to learning much more. I think the films that have been screened on this issue are a powerful medium. Could you share with us a list with us of films/resources? I'd be interested.