July 18, 2019

Request for Collaboration with USMC Commandant

Contact: Deidra Hubay

Communications Director


Press Release




Military Sexual Trauma Movement Awaits the Commandant’s Response

Movement Founder Janelle Marina Mendez writes a powerful open letter to USMC Commandant in a request for collaboration

PENTAGON JULY 17 - With growing anticipation from the veterans and service members it represents, the Military Sexual Trauma Movement awaits response from the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.


With the aid of the Movement’s online Reporting Tool, the movement has successfully begun to influence military leadership and commands to hold service members accountable for a multitude of offenses such as the unconsented sharing of personally explicit photos, blatant advocation for violence against minorities and the LGBTQ+ community, and the blatant advocation for the sexual and physical violence against women.


Much of what is reported through the tool is Cyber Misconduct. The Movement asserts that perpetrators of MST typically show a pattern of behaviors such as concerning online social media posting. Currently, military culture does not foster a safe place for MST survivors.


Retaliatory practices are a suffocating threat to victims of abuse that can leave victims feeling like they have no choice but to suffer in silence, which can lead to suicidal ideations or worse.  In 2014, 25% of the 5,983 MST cases reported were restricted reports, meaning the perpetrator was never held accountable. Of the 4,501 unrestricted reports filed, 62% of the individuals felt they suffered retaliation.


One way we assist is by taking action on the reports we receive from active duty and veteran individuals via our Reporting Tool that want to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. We have maintained a 0% retaliation rate for anyone who has reported an offense through the Movement by keeping these individuals anonymous. 


However, The Movement has found that it was being met with resistance from some of the Commandant's subordinates in finding justice for these issues. We maintain that the MST Movement will stop at nothing to find justice for a broken community, specifically the growing number of people who rely on us to advocate for them. 


The MST Movement advocates for survivors of MST from every branch of service, regardless of their gender or identity. As those seeking our advocacy await a military that ensures everyone in service to their country is safe in their work environment, we will continue to insist that senior leaders step up, raise their standards, hold offenders accountable, and end this hostile military culture instead of enabling it.


“Using this Reporting Tool to report social media activity that was directed at me really gave me a lot of relief,'' one anonymous user of the Tool reported, “I was scared to go to work because I was afraid of being targeted some more, but when the MST movement took it up for me, the Marine who was responsible was investigated, held accountable, and removed from the shop where we worked. I’m able to show up every day and complete the mission without fear of retaliation, because I have remained anonymous. The MST Movement was a godsend in a hostile work environment, and I hope more people can trust them like I did.”  


“This work here is important as we move into a new era. Janelle Marina Mendez (MST Movement Founder) is really making headway here bringing to light what we all closed a blind eye to! Getting in front of the problem one step at a time and just like that, SUCCESS! Let’s lead this all the way to the front!” - Sgt Jason Handlon, USMC Veteran

MSTM’s District of Colombia Movement Leader and MST veteran Grace Lungu: “I love how this (reporting process) is so organized! It’s not about just us as MST survivors. It’s about preserving the future of our children who will grow to be powerful leaders. 

“I've already had to contact numerous commands regarding Active Duty members that engaged in heinous online behavior such as advocating for rape and domestic violence, the murdering of Muslims and Transgender individuals, the unconsented sharing of personally explicit photos, and making fun of PTSD related suicide and dead migrant children.", stated the Movement's Communications Director, “It’s past time we hold offenders accountable and ensure leaders are upholding the standard.”  


We firmly believe now is the time to move in a new direction in which the social welfare of active duty personnel is at the forefront of any military leader’s actions. We look forward to working with the Commandant and the rest of senior military leadership to solve this horrific issue that continues to remain unaddressed. We are optimistic that together we can achieve this common goal and write a new story, one of progress, inspiration and compassion. It is time to bring healing to the victims and families whose wounds remain open and ignored. 

Read the Military Sexual Trauma Movement's Chairwoman and CEO Janelle Marina Mendez's Open Letter.