Ms. Magazine Article on Rape in the Military

by Jamison Koehler on May 24, 2010

I am proud to say that the Spring 2010 issue of Ms. Magazine features my wife, Susan Burke, and her class action suit against the military on behalf of rape victims. Entitled “Culture of Rape” and now available on newsstands (but not online), the article cites a 2003 study by the Veteran Affairs Medical Center which estimates that at least one-third of all female veterans experienced rape or sexual assault during their service. Of my wife, the article includes the following:

Susan Burke wants to dramatically change this brutal, unjust state of affairs.

The Washington, D.C. attorney, who heads the firm Burke PLLC, is preparing to file a class-action lawsuit this summer to revamp how the U.S. military deals with sexual violence and assault committed by its personnel. The suit . . . will ask for damages as well as changes in the military’s practices. As Burke puts it, “You shouldn’t have to agree to be raped in order to sign up and serve your country.”

Burke already has a well-deserved reputation as a crusader against violence by the military and its contractors. She spearheaded a series of lawsuits in 2004 against private security forces who allegedly committed torture and abuse on behalf of the U.S. military in Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Later, she sued the infamous Blackwater firm on behalf of Iraqis killed and wounded in two allegedly unprovoked 2007 attacks on civilians in Baghdad. (The Blackwater suits were settled for a confidential amount; the Abu Ghraib ones are pending.)

6 Comments on “Ms. Magazine Article on Rape in the Military

  1. Who knew that you are married to the famous Susan Burke? I studied her Abu Ghraib case when I was in law school. I also went to see her speak one time at some function in New York. She is a great public speaker and a brilliant and committed lawyer. She is also very courageous to take on big interests, such as Blackwater and the U.S. military.

  2. Mirriam and Cal: Thank you. I’ll pass along the compliments. Although she never reads her own press, she will appreciate the encouragement.

  3. Wow, I’m impressed by your wife’s accomplishments as well. You must be proud.
    Personal note: When I first talked with my girlfriend (now of 3 1/2 years) about getting married, she wanted to keep her last name. I was hurt at first, but now, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m proud of her and her family name. I think it is cool you and your wife did a similar thing.

    Now, what last name do the kids get …?

  4. Hello JW!

    The kids have my last name. Our youngest has my wife’s last name as his middle name.

    My wife says that the people who give her the hardest time about keeping her last name are other women, particularly older women, who took their husbands’ last names.

  5. I am in shock over the topic. The same thing happened to me in 1999, and it enrages me that DoD isn’t listening. Maybe Susan will make them listen! In my case there was much documentation, and a key witness (an officer and my Legal Council). I told this Marine officer about my Commander’s demand that I “do not make an Equal op complaint, request mast, contact channels in the Pentagon, etc or face Brig, Dishonorable discharge, etc”. He was shocked that the III MEF H&S Bn Commander admitted saying it, and further said: “this is why I am leaving the Marine Corps ASAP. *corrected

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