February 12, 2106
The GAO released the investigation’s findings this week, reporting that the services have no uniform way of tracking the practice and unclear definitions of what constitutes hazing in the first place.Five years ago, 21-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Harry Lew kept falling asleep while on guard duty in Afghanistan, a major gaffe for any infantryman in combat. His sergeant told two other Marines in his unit that “peers correct peers,” and so Lew was punched, kicked and forced to do pushups, crunches and other exercises in the middle of the night while wearing body armor, according to a Marine Corps investigation of the incident. Soon after, Lew turned his gun on himself and ended his life.
Lew’s suicide jump-started a debate: What constitutes hazing in the military, and what should the Pentagon do to crack down on the practice?
Lew’s case generated significant interest in Washington in part because of his aunt: Rep. Judy Chu (D.-Calif.). She pressed successfully for an independent investigation by the Government Accountability Office, saying that the stories of her nephew and other victims of hazing — generally described as abusive behavior meant to correct a mistake or earn one’s way into a group — showed the military clearly needed to make improvements.
When surveyed, however, more than a third of male Marines (14 of 39) and and nearly half of female Marines (eight of 17) said they had experienced hazing during their military career. About a quarter of male sailors (10 of 40) and female sailors (four of 15) reported the same, the GAO reported.
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