Bullying takes many forms in the military and affects service members of all ranks. Whether someone experiences verbal or physical abuse, the psychological toll of being bullied often has a lasting impact on those who are mistreated. According to experts, there is a certain amount of acceptance of bullying in American culture, which plays a role in its presence within the military.

The author of an article that was published on the U.S. Army’s website says that he has seen less bullying over the past decade and that attitudes have changed over the years. However, bullying is still a serious problem in the Army and other branches of the military.

Analyzing the abuse

Bullying in the armed forces can affect a wide variety of people, from new recruits to those who have been serving for years and their family members. Bullying not only includes physical attacks that could result in injury, but verbal aggression and harassment as well. The dynamics of bullying in the armed forces vary and may include:

  • Abuse that occurs among fellow members of a unit
  • Hazing and unacceptable initiation rituals
  • A supervisor who bullies someone in a lower rank
  • Military families who are victims of abuse

Some service members only have to struggle with bullying temporarily, until they gain proficiency or complete an initiation process, while others face bullying for a much longer period of time. Regardless of who is responsible for the abuse or its duration, bullying can cause significant suffering.

Addressing the issue

The consequences of abusive behavior sometimes extend beyond short-term depression, stress and physical pain. Some victims suffer from the effects of bullying for a long time and even show symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder because of the mistreatment. In order to reduce the frequency of bullying in the military, service members and their families should be aware of the options that are available. The Army provides social workers who investigate these incidents and other types of assistance, so any service member who is struggling with this issue should take action.

Sometimes, those who are supposed to watch out for their subordinates actually bully them instead. In one case, an Army colonel who verbally abused subordinates was permitted to keep his position, while the victims were relocated. In these situations, victims should report the incident to someone farther up the chain of command. If they fail to resolve the problem, talking to an equal employment opportunity representative or the inspector general could help. Bullying should be taken seriously and victims of verbal and physical mistreatment may want to strongly consider talking to a legal professional.