United States Servicemembers risk their lives every single day in order to protect us from danger around the globe; however, we have yet to make an effort to protect them on the home front.
The Feres Doctrine should be repealed to allow servicemembers to seek legal recourse in civilian courts for cases of: sexual assault, sexual harassment, medical malpractice, and medical negligence.
When an individual raises their right hand and signs on the dotted line, they sign their life to an entity that is larger than them... they expect their life to be rough and to have a multitude of curveballs be thrown their way... what they do not expect is to be denied the opportunity to receive adequate healthcare, to be sexually assaulted and immediately silenced, to be attacked by their peers and superiors without being able to properly seek justice.
In recent cases, the Supreme Court has refused to overturn Feres and has stated that they do not wish to “undermine the power of military discipline” (Lewis, 2019).
Where was the power of military discipline when Vanessa Guillen was sexually assaulted and subsequently murdered? Where was the power of military discipline when LT Daniel bled to death in front of her healthcare team, which received no reprimand? Where was this military discipline when Stacy Dryden was repeatedly slammed into concrete and killed?
By allowing the Feres Doctrine to continue, we send a message to the members of the Armed Forces that their voices do not matter. What matters is, if and when superior officers decide to heed the cries of helpless servicemembers.
By repealing Feres, servicemembers would be allowed to legally seek action in civilian court systems, without fear of retaliation from superior officers.
Had Vanessa been able to seek the guidance of local PD, she might still be with us today.
Help servicemembers. Repeal Feres.
Lewis, K. M. (2019). The Feres Doctrine: Congress, the Courts, and Military Servicemember Lawsuits Against the United States. Retrieved from https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/LSB10305.pdf