Monday, June 29, 2015

This is why I advocate for veterans whose Civil and Human rights were violated while serving on active duty, especially those that were raped, sexually assaulted or experienced whistleblower retaliation. As Dr. King once said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere!"


Thought for the day...


Buried  Souls  Do Speak

Does my righteousness offend you?
Some say I act too proud.
Say my voice speaks with temperament;
Say I boast and sing too loud.

Say I speak of untold truths
Whose lies are buried deep.
Say, through the surface of Mother Earth
Buried Souls do speak.

Their injustices never righted,
Their graves go unmarked.
Wretched souls forever lost,
Left to roam in the dark.

Lost souls not forgotten
Their stench decayed and rotten;
Surfaced from the core of the Mother Earth
Whose truths are long forgotten.

Receded by her waves,
Marked in shallow graves,
Brought forth to cleanse us of Hate
That the soul forever craves.

Go to sleep dear child
As we put your souls to rest.
Cleanse and heal your children,
Nourish them to do their very best.

Go to sleep my child
The fight is already won,
Bring forth new beginnings
Under the healing light of the Sun.

Go to sleep dear child
As we prepare you for rebirth.
May the Heavenly Universe
Always protect, nourish and bless
Our beloved Mother Earth.

©  2015  Sy’needa Penland

Thursday, June 18, 2015

CNN Reports: Charleston church shooting suspect arrested in N.C.


                      Dylann Roof , 21, of Lexington South Carolina

"The only reason someone would walk into a church and shoot people that were praying is hate," Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said.



Full article:  http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/18/us/charleston-south-carolina-shooting/


Please pray for the victims, their families, the City of Charleston and for Love and Peace.

In my view, the women whose life was spared was an Angel (messenger) from God, to show us that Hate is no longer welcomed in God's house!!  May her voice be lifted higher to speak songs of praise, deliverance and love!  May the stains of Charleston's history be wiped clean as she and her people come forward to unify under God's Love, to heal during this terrible tragedy. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Fox News reports: China refers 2 ranking officers to prosecutors amid military anti-corruption drive

China's military has referred two ranking officers to prosecutors amid a continuing crackdown on corruption in the armed forces.

Kou Tie and Liu Zhanqi were placed under investigation in November and their cases forwarded to prosecutors last month, the Defense Ministry said in a brief notice Wednesday.

Kou had been head of the provincial military command in Heilongjiang in China's northeast, while Liu had been transportation chief for the paramilitary People's Armed Police, a sprawling body with broad responsibilities for internal security, disaster relief and other duties.

Military investigations have focused on embezzlement and bribery in the housing construction and logistics divisions, where generous funding and lax supervision have created ample opportunities for corruption.

That has accompanied a new emphasis on welfare for the 2.3 million-member armed forces, with a substantial chunk of the annual double-digit percentage increases in defense spending going to salaries, benefits and other welfare for the troops.

Along with the selling of ranks and positions, the diversion of military funds into private hands is believed to have dealt a strong negative effect on morale, discipline and combat preparedness in the world's largest standing military.

The campaign against military corruption kicked off with an investigation into the People's Liberation Army's former head of logistics, Lt. Gen. Gu Junshan, who allegedly amassed a jaw-dropping fortune through embezzlement, kickbacks and the selling of favors.

Gu has yet to go to trial, while the military's former second-highest ranking general, Xu Caihou, died of cancer in March while under investigation on suspicion of taking bribes and brokering promotions.

President Xi Jinping, who is also head of the armed forces, has made the crackdown on military corruption a centerpiece of his sweeping drive against graft in the government and ruling Communist Party.

Full article:  http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/06/16/china-refers-2-ranking-officers-to-prosecutors-amid-military-anti-corruption/

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My latest piece is dedicated to the Awakened Souls, may your light of Love always be nourished by the Divine.


Divine Energy
© 2015  Sy’needa Penland

Spread your essence to my grace,
old memories I will erase.
Spread your wings to the sky,
days of old, no more long good-byes.

Majestic, elegant, seductive you are;
your colors are as vibrant as the heavenly stars.
From the darkness of your cocoon - your eyes will see,
the magical essence of my Divine Energy.

Support Amendment 1578, the Military Justice Improvement Act, to the National Defense Authorization Act, S.1376




Advocacy Letter - 06/10/15
Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: U.S. Senate


Dear Senator:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to support Amendment 1578, which incorporates the provisions of the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA). Despite repeated promises from the Department of Defense and modest reforms made in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), recent documentation from the Rand survey demonstrates that the current system still fails to result in adequate prosecution of sexual assault crimes or any punishment for retaliation against survivors of sexual assault.[1] The fundamental shift in decision-making authority away from commanders to professional military justice prosecutors mandated in this amendment is necessary to ensure that appropriate legal action is taken to prosecute and prevent future incidences of sexual assault.

The Leadership Conference believes it is critically important for Congress to support removing from the military chain of command the prosecution and other key decision-making in military cases involving most serious crimes punishable by one year or more in confinement, including sexual assault. The recent Rand Corporation study found that the sexual assault rate remains the same as in 2010.[2]  Moreover, 1 in 7 victims were assaulted by someone in their chain of command.[3]  Perhaps, most importantly, this independent Rand survey found that 86 percent of victims did not report the crime in 2014. They believe that reporting would hurt their career; that the process would be unfair; or that nothing would be done and feared retaliation from their chain of command or coworkers.[4] And given that the retaliation rate against victims remains at 62 percent, the same rate as in 2012,[5] these service members appear to have good cause for their concern that reporting could hurt their career. A recent report from Human Rights Watch corroborates these findings. Both male and female military personnel who report sexual assault are 12 times as likely to experience some form of retaliation as to see their attacker convicted of a sex offense.[6] Additionally, of the female service members that did not report a sexual assault incident, 47 percent listed fear of retaliation as a reason for not reporting.[7]

Significant efforts to decrease sexual assault incidents through training and survivor assistance programs have been undertaken; however, these have proven insufficient in preventing the high incidents of sexual assault. Similarly, we believe the modest reforms in the NDAA clearly are insufficient to address the magnitude of this persistent problem. It is critical that decision-making in cases of sexual assault, retaliation, and other serious crimes except those offenses that are uniquely military in nature, be removed from the military chain of command as proposed by Amendment 1578, the Military Justice Improvement Act, to the NDAA.

There is broad agreement that victims of unwanted sexual contact should not have to live in fear of coming forward. Our military service members risk their lives for this country, and it is time that meaningful structural changes are made within the military justice system to ensure their safety. The MJIA will provide a fair and objective system so that victims can come forward and be provided an impartial hearing without fear of retaliation.

For these reasons, we urge you to vote for Amendment 1578 to S.1376. We look forward to working with you on this important legislation. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact June Zeitlin, Director of Human Rights Policy at zeitlin@civilrights.org or (202) 263-2852. Thank you for your consideration of this critical issue.

Sincerely,
Wade Henderson
President & CEO
Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President

[1] RAND Corporation, Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Military, Volume 2. (2015).  http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR800/RR870z2/RAND_RR870z2.pdf
[2] Id. at 69
[3] Id. at 22
[4] Id. at 53
[5] Id. at 73
[6] Human Rights Watch, US: Military Whistleblowers at Risk, (May 18, 2015). http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/05/18/us-military-whistleblowers-risk
[7] Human Rights Watch, Embattled: Retaliation against Sexual Assault Survivors in the US Military (2015), http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/usmilitary0515_web.pdf, pg. 27.

Friday, June 12, 2015

On the Rise, Civil Rights and Human Rights Violations in the US Military

Several years ago, I embarked on a spiritual journey, seeking a higher level of understanding to what brought me to this point in my life.  I took refuge in my natural gift of writing poetry, and I’ve come to believe that our healing powers exist deep within, and it requires a strong spirit to reach in, to help guide others from their darkness.  This is why I advocate for other veterans.

After reading a recent article in the LA Times about the increasing number of suicides of YOUNG military veterans, I felt it in my Spirit to continue to help the voices of those who are no longer here to tell their stories.  Sharing the story has sparked a dialogue on my private facebook page and other women veteran support group pages.  The unbelievable stories of military rape, sexual assault and Command retaliation is disheartening.  But who am I to play “Victim?!”  The last time I checked, I’m a SURVIVOR, and so are my fellow veterans.

The countless lives we are losing to suicide is something President Eisenhower failed to warn us about, when he predicted the military becoming a stronger industrialized complex.  I pray President Obama addresses this issue, rather sooner than later.

While serving in uniform, veterans Civil Rights are being violated on a daily basis and we don’t have the luxury of reporting these violations to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) because the military is its own jurisdiction, that operates behind an iron curtain.

The longer our veterans are forced to live and work in some of the most aggressive and deceptive environments, they will become more vulnerable to ongoing human rights violations, which goes underreported to Congress in the Pentagon’s Military’s Diversity report, or by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

In my memoir I discuss how I was denied Whistleblower Protection, after contacting Navy IG investigator, Dave Brownell, to initially report violations of my civil rights, and the results of an ongoing investigation of fraud, waste and abuse.  During my deposition with investigator Brownell, I’d informed him that I was also a Navy certified IG investigator and had been secretly investigating the command since my arrival, I'd been tipped off of the command's ongoing credit card fraud while deployed to the Middle East; prior to reporting to Coastal Warfare.  I further discuss details of his fraudulent investigation. 

To disgrace my reputation and discredit me, senior command officials resorted to the oldest trick in the book and charged me with committing adultery.  I’ve yet to find the civilian "law" that allows a single person to be charged with committing adultery; which further proves my point that the military operates in a world of its own.  Meanwhile, thousands of returning veterans are forced to live in silence, after enduring years of workplace abuse.   

The following is an excerpt from my memoir, and the title pretty much speaks for itself. 






18

It Never Had to Go This Far

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When it became apparent that my case would most likely go to a court-martial, I filed a second IG complaint, this time with the DoD IG Military Reprisal Division.  In the new complaint, filed on April 9, 2008, I named a dozen or more active duty service members, including government civilian employees and contractors, for their involvement in committing fraud and reprisal acts against me.  The IG investigator, Dave Brownell, had not provided me the promised whistleblower protection, and this time I named him in my complaint as well.

            Still convinced that justice would prevail in my case, I attempted to forward an appeal request of my equal opportunity (EO) complaint to the Secretary of the Navy, via Admiral Greenert’s endorsement.  On April 18, 2008, I scanned and sent an email to Greenert’s legal staff and Equal Opportunity Advisor (EOA), Senior Chief Petty Officer Pope, attaching a 3-page letter in support of my case.  I also mailed a certified copy of the letter along with additional supporting documents. 
The following is an excerpt of my letter:        

To:       Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command
Subj:    Appeal Request for Review of My Equal Opportunity Complaint 
             by Higher Authority – Secretary of the Navy

IAW (cited references and forwarded enclosures), I request an appeal be granted for review by higher authority based on legal and/equitable grounds.  It is my perception that existing DoD and DoN regulations were incorrectly applied during the initial investigation of my equal opportunity complaint conducted by NECC and during the review of my appeal request performed by USFFC…. 

   I am of the opinion that specific facts were ignored and weighed incorrectly to substantiate my complaint and appeal request, which I am of the opinion, provides evidence  to  substantiate  a  measurable  degree  of  Reprisal,   Racial  and  Gender Discrimination, Disparate Treatment, continuous and potential exposure to a hostile work environment.” 

I also noted:

   As stated previously, “In my request for an appeal submitted in August 2007, my first attempt to report EO violations was on 28 March 07 to SURFOR IG Office, CAPT Demarco’s staff, at which point I was referred to file a formal complaint to my ISIC, NECC IG. On 30 March 07, I made an initial report of EO violations to include Acts of Reprisal to Dave Brownell.  Only to discover on June 19, 2007, that he failed to initiate an immediate investigation.  Dave Brownell justified his actions by stating, that due to the fact that NECC did not have an EOA on staff during the time I made my complaint, he did not want to “put his boss on report” by forwarding my complaint to a higher authority for investigation.

   I further stated, “As a result of the extreme delay by not investigating my IG complaint of reprisal and other violations, charges were preferred against me on 5 June 07, and since filing the complaint I have suffered severe health deterioration, and additional reprisal and an undeniable degree of humiliation which has estranged my relationship with fellow colleagues, community leaders, friends and most importantly my family.  Since being relieved from my position as the supply officer, my chances for promotion to Commander has also been severely impacted.

   I ended my letter by stating: “For over a year I have attempted to exercise my constitutional right to due process.  Yet I strongly believe that a certain degree of inequality still exists within certain military organizations.  Over 18 years ago, when I volunteered to serve our country, I had a personal choice based on my patriotism to uphold and defend the United States Constitution and its Amendments; which grants us our freedom, our liberty and fair and equal justice for all.  I did not make the decision to serve our country within an organization amongst officers in positions of authority who attempt to deny service members their constitutional right to due process and fair justice.

Very respectfully,
Sy’needa L. Penland
LCDR, SC, USN

            A few weeks before my trial, I received an email confirmation from Senior Chief Pope that he was going to take action to process my request for an appeal.  I guess I was still na├»ve enough to believe him.  The truth was that while my constitutional rights were being violated, senior military officials had to ensure their professional records remained untarnished.  Months later, after I was released from the brig, I would learn that my appeal request had never  been  forwarded  to  the  Secretary  of  the  Navy. 

At that time, Admiral Jonathan Greenert served as the Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, assigned to the position from September 2007 to July 2009.     He was later promoted to serve as the Vice Chief of  Naval Operations from August 2009 to August 2011.  On September 23, 2011 he was nominated to serve as the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), the most senior ranking position in the U.S. Navy.  The allegations of an easily silenced whistleblower would not affect his career trajectory……..

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Mother of former sailor opens up about her death





There is so much truth in the mother's remarks. If you don't "go along to get along" you will be punished! Why? Because they "Out Rank You!" They have their own lawyers, jurors, judges, courtrooms, prisons, doctors, hospitals, etc. The military operates in a world of its own, and treat our veterans like second class citizens, veterans Civil Rights and Human Rights are being violated every day and Congress and President Obama is ignoring this growing epidemic!!

LA Times reports: Suicide rate of female military veterans is called 'staggering'


New government research shows that female military veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of other women, a startling finding that experts say poses disturbing questions about the backgrounds and experiences of women who serve in the armed forces.

Their suicide rate is so high that it approaches that of male veterans, a finding that surprised researchers because men generally are far more likely than women to commit suicide.

"It's staggering," said Dr. Matthew Miller, an epidemiologist and suicide expert at Northeastern University who was not involved in the research. "We have to come to grips with why the rates are so obscenely high."

Full article:  http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-female-veteran-suicide-20150608-story.html#page=1

Whenever I read articles like this, it saddens me to see how more and more veterans are giving up while coping with PTSD.  My heart goes out to their love ones who are left to beg the question, WHY?!!!

While penning my memoir, I began sharing details of my traumatic experience on social media.  I even set up a blog and website, encouraging veterans to reach out to me, to make sure they didn’t suffer the same fate as thousands of other veterans who have returned home from the never-ending war in the Middle East, sharing horrific tales of lies, deceit, abuse, corruption, sexual assault, rape and even death. 

Yet, one MAJOR factor the Pentagon will continue to ignore (conceal) is “pill addiction" and the over medicating of our veterans.  The side effects alone can be fatal. 

Recently I watched a documentary of an ex-pharmaceutical “drug pusher”, which is how she describes herself, providing insight into how BIG Pharma is indeed BIG BUSINESS

In a speech during his first term, President Obama identified “Wall-Street, the Military and Big Pharma” as the “3-Axis of Evil, yet he “Bails them out?!!”  SHM!!!

By the Grace of God, I was able to survive military workplace abuse, sexual/racial discrimination and retaliation.  One major mile-stone along my recovery was publishing my memoir.  Since doing so, I’ve found peace and discovered the light in my darkness. Yet, I wanted to make sure the world knew what I went through and to encourage other veterans to seek help and “Other” forms of rehabilitation therapy, like art, spiritual retreats, group counseling, etc.  Or even journaling or blogging. 

As my grandmother constantly reminds me, “Grief and trauma is like a cancer, if you don’t get it out of your system, the darkness will consume you and will ultimately kill you.” 

Our veterans need help!!!!!  No amount of pills can help us recover from the atrocities of war or workplace abuse, but a Human Rights bill can help save another veteran from meeting the same fate!!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Women in America.... Still Fighting for Equality!!


For the past week, I’ve been undergoing a spiritual cleansing, much like a transformation, as I embark upon a new journey in my life. As an advocate for gender equality, ongoing abuse towards women and other causes the Great Spirit deems necessary for me to support, I’ve decided to break one of my vows during my sabbatical to share my thoughts on the negative comments regarding Catilyn Jenner’s “transformation,” despite the retreat’s restrictions on cell phone and internet use, I couldn’t go another day without letting Catilyn know, “You’re my hero!!”

As an American Olympian, her fire can certainly help to further our cause for equal rights and gender equality.

Catilyn I must say, you definitely have come full-circle.  As a fellow water zodiac sign, “May your journey towards embracing your womanhood be pleasant and smooth, like the gentle streams that nourish the valleys. May your passion for equality grow, as it is nourished by each step you've taken thus far; and may your life’s lessons provide pearls of wisdom as we continue to understand the duality within human nature.

I, “WE” welcome the new you!  

“You Go Girl!”

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Tells Young Women: 'Fight For The Things You Care About'


“We are here today to honor how one person -- our honoree, Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- knocked on closed doors, opened them and held them open for others.”

That's how the Dean of Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Lizabeth Cohen, introduced Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at a luncheon at Harvard University on May 29. Ginsburg, who was given the Radcliffe Medal, took the stage and had some powerful advice for the young women in the crowd.

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you," the 82-year-old said, in response to a question regarding the advice she would give young women today.

Ginsburg reflected on landmark women's rights cases that she worked on when she first became a Justice in the 1970s. "The object was to get at a stereotype that held women back from doing whatever their talent would allow them to do," she said. "The notion was that there were separate spheres for the sexes. Men were the doers in the world and women were the stay-at-home types."

She later added that now is a better time than any for women to go after what they want. "Young women today have a great advantage, and it is that there are no more closed doors," Ginsburg said. "That was basically what the '70s was all about. Opening doors that had been closed to women."


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/02/ruth-bader-ginsburg-fight-for-the-things-you-care-about_n_7492630.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046