Kindly, Wes, let’s be fair. This is hardly a recent problem. I’m an Army vet with five years plus, half and half enlisted and officer. While on active duty I saw plenty of what you describe, and as a female I was subjected to brutal sexual behavior including a gang rape and regular assaults by senior officers who were at the time in their early thirties. Predators given rank. Power, including the power to end me and my career if I spoke out. Thousands upon thousands did precisely that to their victims. That’s in part why the female vet suicide rate is so high. Hell, I almost did it myself for the same reasons. Toxic bastards who had the rank to get away with rape. One of them is still living in Vegas at this writing.

True, older men do it as well. One three star in particular did his best to bend me over his desk, but I used my friendship with his wife and ten (yes, ten, he had a problem keeping it zipped up) kids.

These issues have been with us since time immemorial. They are throughout the ranks of our military, our quasi-military organizations such as the police and firefighters. We have a leadership issue, period. We have an horrific narcissism issue, period. Any time any organization, be it corporate America or the corps, decides to imbue people with far too much authority combined with far too little emotional maturity, we will have abuses. In any organization which lives and dies by Rank Has Its Privileges, then anyone with more bars or more stars can do with you what they will. That goes for all sexes, all genders, no matter what.

“Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”At 66, and having done leadership training all my life, including having won a leadership award in the military, I am no stranger to what it takes to lead. We are long on handing power to the wrong folks and short on quality, commitment, backbone, empathy, compassion and courage.

That we still have massive sexual scandal issues- that issue alone- speaks to the lack of leadership in government, in the White House, all the way down. It starts at the top. I have met very, very few leaders who genuinely deserved the rank and privileges they enjoyed. Because like far too many folks, they don’t possess the moral backbone to say no to temptation, including to their own egos. Including corporate big wigs. Including Presidents. Including tin pot dictators. Including fathers who wield far too much power in their own houses. What you describe is everywhere.

We don’t have very many examples to follow. We like to lionize those who appeal to us, until we discover their taste for little boys. Or whatever. Character is damned hard to come by. It’s earned, not bequeathed. The second someone pins a piece of metal on my shoulder in the military I’ve got too damned much power. I agree with what you say, but I might posit that it’s a far greater illness than just in the ranks of my military peeps.

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