CAMP PENDLETON, CA – Legislators and women’s rights advocates are already hailing a new Department of Defense (DOD) policy to combat sexual assault by encouraging rapists to hand out DSTRESS cards to their victims.
DSTRESS is a telephone counseling service and website that troubled service members can contact anonymously.
"For too long the victims of sexual crimes have had to wait hours, even days, before receiving treatment," said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Bucher. "However, under our new policy, they will have the ability to seek treatment within seconds."
The policy is part of an aggressive campaign, called "Five Minutes Is Too Much", launched by the DOD following revelations that at least 3,000 men and women reported being sexually assaulted in 2011.
The goal is to increase the timely awareness of resources for sexual assault victims immediately following their assault.
For example, one new awareness picture shows a smiling female airmen with three other smiling male airmen standing around her. The caption reads: "Tonight, one or all of these three men will try to rape her. Make sure they have their DSTRESS cards handy!"
In a similar move, the Marine Corps will be turning the Silent Drill Team into the Screaming Drill Team to encourage the reporting of incidents.
Spokesman Bucher said the "Five Minutes Is Too Much" program came about after the DOD concluded there was no practical way to lower sexual assaults in the military.
After several months of brainstorming other possible solutions, such as sexually-segregating barracks, banning alcohol, restricting service members from going to bars, and chemical castration, all were rejected as either unfeasible or unconstitutional.
"One admiral actually suggested a policy used in the Middle East, where the victim is forced to marry the rapist," added Bucher, although that idea was ultimately discarded "due to the financial constraints of that many people applying at once for Basic Allowance for Housing."
Also, Bucher said, "we might run into a situation where a male rapes a male or a female rapes a female and all of a sudden we're endorsing gay marriage."
The DOD has been struggling to come up with a workable campaign against sexual assault ever since it's last attempt, dubbed 'Shine a Light', in 2011.
That policy encouraged service members not to let intoxicated females go home alone, but inadvertently increased the number of assaults by giving perpetrators a workable set of techniques, tactics & procedures (TTPs).
According to Bucher, the Department initially thought about "just making a flashy video and forcing all our service members to watch it in mandatory training sessions then issuing guidance to our public affairs guys to replace the word 'rape' with the less graphic 'sexual assault'."
Instead, Bucher said, "we figured we should concentrate on a project that might actually have some impact."
In a related policy to cut down on suicides, DSTRESS cards will soon be taped to all firearms, rope, and razor blades sold on every military base.