People only see what they want to see—and believe what they want to believe. It does not go down smoothly when we highlight the violent and abusive behaviors of those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

If you are paying attention to the news, at least in North Carolina, there are influxes in reporting that point to either veterans or military members that are involved in sexual violence such as rape, child abuse, Animal Abuse, and domestic violence. This influx is nothing new—don’t’ worry, you are not the only one to purposely not notice.

Blame the VA all you want, but it is time that we start looking at the demographics of the people that military recruiters cater to.

It is time we start questioning the military’s policies and practices that affect our family and children; we send young adults—our family—off to join the military and work in these environments that will forever mold who they are, so start paying attention.

Our nation’s heroes

Men ages 18-25 are often targeted by recruiters to join the military. Women join as well, but the workplace climate is still not suitable for women in the military and only in recent decades have recruiting efforts even included women. Reporting and research often analyze the demographic of men that join: low-income, uneducated, with a lack of access to resources.

On average, people join the military to pay for college or to gain a specific skill-set to make them marketable after the military. Also, some join purely because of their unwavering patriotism.

It is not uncommon in military environments to come across emotionally broken young people—young people right out of high school that have lived through familial abuse and domestic violence.

Objectification and disdain for women is something that was ingrained in their psyche from childhood all the way through adolescence; add a hostile boot camp environment—like the Marine Corps—that degrades women in cadences, teaches men to avoid women (their own fellow Marines), and blatantly admits to not wanting women in combat, you’ve got yourself a Molotov cocktail of future violent offenders that are used to having their violent behavior covered up and justified.

Abusing animals is a major sign of psychological interference

Stepping on ants or killing the occasional house spider are generally normal things that people do—abusing animals, not so much. A couple in Fayetteville, NC, reportedly shot their service dog on film, and laughed about it. Service dogs are often given to veterans by non-profits to help with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other ailments. Many veterans report that they know of friends that have abused their service animals—who else is around to abuse but an innocent animal?

In recent reporting, an Army veteran, 23-year-old Marinna Rollins and her 25-year-old Army active duty boyfriend, Jarren Heng, were accused of tying their service dog to a tree and shooting it multiple times with a rifle. They reportedly laughed the whole time and were stupid enough to film the act of violence. They are receiving minor charges at this time.

It is disgusting that our culture holds these violent offenders in such a high status when they need to be put in check and held accountable, minor charges are not acceptable for such egregious acts of violence.

Rampant sexual violence in the military ranks

Animals are not the only ones that take abuse from service members and veterans; our nation’s heroes have a favorite past-time of abusing women and even children.

Their commands hide it or never deal with it. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about men; in fact, they have it bad as well because when they report they are stigmatized, ignored, and even mocked. Overall, we have a problem with gross human rights violations and abuse in the military.

To put things into perspective: our military releases these abusers in your neighborhoods and in your communities without rehabilitation. Your votes to elect people that keep reformation of military policy legislation in filibuster is directly influencing the safety of your family—pay attention! Furthermore, if you had access to the military reports and blotters you would know that they are shockingly full of infractions against minors regarding sexual abuse and rape as well—it is very rare that anyone is ever prosecuted.

Far too often, spouses are afraid to notify the command because they fear reprisal against their spouse which could in turn affect their family’s economic stability. The military’s family advocacy programs are ridiculous and often make horrible decisions. In one case, the family advocacy program aboard a Marine Corps base actually had false findings that a victim was in fact the abuser; so, instead of protecting the victim, they assisted the abuser in further harassment and subjugated her to a loss of access to child support and a home.

These are just some reasons as to why the military should be stripped of their power to make decisions regarding rape, abuse, and family issues. Pay attention to the media, your vote, and where you send your kids after high school.