Monday, December 2, 2013

An "Occupational Hazard": Rape in the Military

In 2012, I produced this documentary about sexual assault in the military and in 2013, it was awarded an RFK award for radio journalism.

The Bob Edwards Show presents the premier feature in a series titled “An ‘Occupational Hazard’: Rape in the Military.” One in three of active-duty women serving the U.S. military have reported being the victim of sexual assault while serving, which is double the rate for civilians. Based on estimates from the Department of Defense, 19,000 servicemen and women were sexually assaulted in 2010 and most of those violent acts don’t get reported because in the military, victims are required to report to their chain of command. As such, only eight-percent are brought to justice, either through prosecution or some form of military nonjudicial punishment. Defending themselves in civilian court in 2011, the Pentagon argued that sexual assault is an “occupational hazard” in the military. Throughout today’s program we will hear from servicemen and women about their Military Sexual Trauma, advocates who help treat and raise awareness about the problem, and lawmakers about what is being done.


Stories from Third Med: Surviving a Jungle ER

This radio documentary, "Stories from Third Med: Surviving a Jungle ER," aired for Memorial Day in 2008 and was awarded a Sigma Delta Chi award for best documentary by the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Navy’s Third Medical Battalion was assigned to treat the Marine’s Third Division in the Northernmost part of South Vietnam, closest to enemy territory during one of our nation’s deadliest wars. The battalion treated thousands of men in Vietnam, but those stories have never been recorded for broadcast. As a producer for The Bob Edwards Show, I attended the 40th Anniversary Reunion of the Third Medical Battalion in Charleston, South Carolina on May 2nd and 3rd, 2008 to capture the stories and the spirit of these unsung heroes.

Listen to the radio documentary here: https://soundcloud.com/anpekary/sets/stories-from-third-med

The Invisible: Children without Homes

In 2007, I produced this radio documentary about homeless children with Bob Edwards.  It won a RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award for best documentary in 2008.

Say the word “homeless” and it most likely conjures up an image of a bag lady or old man asleep on a park bench. But the fastest growing homeless population in the United States is homeless families. Increasingly, single parents are unable to provide basic necessities for their children – food, shelter, clothing, and medicine. Forty-percent of homeless Americans are homeless families with children. In New York the number of homeless families is at an all time high. In Washington, DC the only emergency shelter for homeless families has been closed, causing hundreds of families to be put on a waiting list for housing. The challenges facing this young group are crippling–often lifelong–and sometimes deadly. Yet as the cost of living increases and the economy tightens, programs for these vulnerable families are being cut. What’s more, these young children of poor, broken families are in turn more likely to be homeless themselves as teens and adults. Homeless kids have more health problems, more learning disabilities, and emotional disorders than other children. That makes it harder for them to learn and do well in school, making it harder to get an education and be self-sufficient. And that makes them more susceptible to homelessness as adults, continuing the cycle of poverty.

Bob Edwards and I spent hours interviewing homeless men, women, teens and children – at shelters, group homes, and on city sidewalks to report their stories. These families told of the financial hardship and violence – verbal, physical, and sexual – that forced them on to the streets, creating even more difficult and dangerous situations. These are stories of survival and hope in a time when solutions are quietly debated. Social workers, advocates for the poor, and government officials generally agree about how best to help that nation’s homeless children:  provide comprehensive services, education assistance, and medical treatment. In this special documentary, Bob Edwards examines whether enough being done to break the cycle for homeless kids.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Overcoming peril, a nightmare


We cuddled in bed with the 
koala and mama lion,
hugging and rubbing and
trying to comfort both.

Hope foolishly
overcame peril.

Then without warning or cause
the lioness opened her jaws,
and teeth slowly grasped the little bear by 
the back of the neck.

He knew what was happening, 
the look of calm terror 
and wonder in his eyes
looking at me, directly, 
for help
or reassurance.

Her grip tightened, cutting off his air.
The skin ripped, flesh tearing through hair.

But afraid to anger the hungry beast,
I lowered my eyes and just hoped it was quick.

All I could do
was grab a towel and sop
to try to keep
the blood
from seeping
into the mattress beneath.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Congruent triangle

Have you ever been in love,
even if you weren't in love.
As in, you're in love with me
and I'm in love with you,
who's in love with her?

With integrity,
this is the geometry lesson
I loath most.
I mean, is it equilateral
or isosceles or scalene
or even, oddly, Escher?

Have you ever needed help,
as easily as the rain starts,
and no one could give you that help,
as easily as the rain stops.
parallel planes =
more mathematical laws hated,
fore they will never intersect.

You're an obtuse angle
who somehow can finagle,
with some emotion bygone,
the lines into an octagon.

Eight sides almost a circle -
tis life,
tis love,
in this oh so congruent song.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The clouds above are weak


the clouds above are weak
too thin to wring out a shower
thick enough to block the moon.
too cheap to rain,
they're too stubborn to move.

Puffs in the sky -
a shadow on my day.
you could open up and share
but instead linger
threatening love and thunder.
like gospel without harmony,
you just hover.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I'm having a moment, forgive me (and no offense to my friends with children)


I just read a sweet little post about a young couple learning that they are (I mean, she is) pregnant.  She describes in vague detail how they bought the drug store pregnancy tests and how they determined that the highway rest stop was not the best place to take them.  The blog had dozens of congratulatory comments – pages and pages of comments actually, which I declined to read in full.

Last week, a friend and colleague also announced that his wife is pregnant.  I wrote an email to congratulate him.  When he responded, “It’s a miracle,” my immediate response was “no it’s not.”  Except, I didn’t actually respond, not out loud and not in writing. Just in my head.  I didn’t want to come across as being a bitter old hag.  It’s just that

Obviously I take getting pregnant for granted.  I’ve known far more people who got pregnant by mistake, unintentionally, than people who weren’t able to get pregnant when they tried.  I don’t think it’s a miracle – I think it’s the organic and scientific result of an instinctual human act.  You don’t need the blessing of some made-up figure in the sky to make it happen.  I bet many atheists have conceived babies, wanted or unwanted, for better or for worse.

I clicked on the twitter page of the author of the blog above and her feed was full of “thank you!s” and “we’re so excited!”  I believe them, and am happy for them – but feel like this can be a little bit of an overreaction.  The decision to have a child (or not) is a very personal one, as is the process.  If I’m bitter over this issue, watching folks hatch little ones left and right around me, then it was a premature bitterness.  I knew early – age 5 – that this was no baby-bearing-body.  Maybe, actually, I’m just bitter that there hasn’t been an outpouring of felicitations over my decision to control the world’s population.  “Hey, everyone! I’m NOT having a baby!  I’m making a smart and responsible decision!”  Really, don’t we think there are enough people on the globe already?  And in some ways I think

There is something egotistical and narcissistic to have the desire to reproduce oneself.  Only on my very best days do I think that’s a reasonable thought, and even then, I haven’t ever taken it seriously.