SOUNDOFF: Navy takes care of its own
July 3, 2008 · Updated 11:24 PM
I am tired of seeing local newspapers bashing the Navy.
In a small town such as Oak Harbor, where the Navy is the largest business in its economy, it's easy for some irresponsible people to point out when something they perceive to be bad happens. Accusations and assumptions are made as if these things would not happen in the civilian community. Bad Navy!
The Navy does a great job taking care of its sailors and their families. When a problem is identified, myriad resources are available to correct the situation before it gets out of hand.
Does that mean bad things do not happen to sailors or by sailors? Of course not. Someone would be very naive to think that. But as with all sound management practices, most problems are handled at their lowest level.
Referring to Jessie Stensland's article (see Whidbey News-Times, June 7) about the limits of Navy justice, she seems to think the problem of domestic violence (DV) would be handled better if the Navy stayed out of it and it were strictly handled by civilian agencies. We all know there's no red tape there. Yet in her own article she more than once mentions protection orders (POs) were issued by civilian authorities as well as by the military.
Well, gee, the civilian PO really seemed to be a whole lot more effective at preventing another situation from taking place, didn't it?
Stensland's article states there is no facility for detaining an individual placed under military arrest. This is also a misleading. When someone is placed under arrest by military authorities, they can be transported to the Navy brig located at the submarine base in Bangor.
From articles that I have read in the past, including current ones, in most DV cases handled by civilian authorities, the suspect may be arrested but is then more often than not, released on his or her own cognizance. That sure seems to be better than what the Navy does and is sure to be more effective at preventing an additional altercation. Not so.
The Navy immediately steps in with available counseling for both parties and resources for the victim as well. This is not a substitute for legal action but something above and beyond in an attempt to prevent future incidents. Protection orders are issued and housing made available for the service member at the BEQ.
There is even a special Domestic Violence Task Force with trained professionals specializing in such cases. Every attempt is made to correct the situation and keep both parties safe. I am much more confident in the Navy's ability to handle such cases as opposed to civilian governmental organizations.
Yet this is not a perfect system. There is no such thing. So in a small town full of Navy folk, it is easy to point the finger when something bad happens as if it would not happen if the Navy were not present. This seems to be the policy of the local paper, as most of their reporters seem to have a personal axe to grind. I'm not saying bad news should not be reported. All news should be reported, both good and bad. But it should be done from a fair and honest approach, not with a preconceived point of view and only providing evidence that supports their opinion. Let the reporter provide balanced information and leave the readers to form their own conclusions, with all the information presented, not just selected items.
I have seen this with other papers as well. Even ones outside a Navy community where they get a sob story from someone and print their version as fact without any investigation into the true situation. I guess papers seem to think this is what sells, and that's the bottom line.
As for me, I will not buy another local paper and contribute to their biased anti-Navy reporting.
Greg Fischer is a retired chief petty officer living in Oak Harbor.