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Protect Our Defenders

Tim Horsburgh

Military sexual assault is an issue that has plagued our services for decades, but until recently victims were silenced and the issue was swept under the rug. That changed when survivors began to speak out and create a movement for accountability and change. The Invisible War captured those stories and elevated their voices to a national stage. The public national broadcast of this film magnified the survivors’ impact in a way that cannot be overstated. The film brought the voices of survivors into the homes of ordinary Americans across the country, spreading outrage over the treatment of our service members, who had suffered not only sexual assault at the hands of their brothers-in-arms, but the professional, legal, mental, and physical fallout of those attacks in a system that failed to support them.

Protect Our Defenders worked with the filmmakers as an outreach partner. Critically, the film helped inspire thousands of citizens, veterans and active duty service members to join the movement and fight for change. The widespread viewing helped to turn Invisible War into more than a film. Invisible War quickly became a powerful advocacy tool to help make real and lasting change. On Capitol Hill, the Invisible War helped motivate lawmakers to take this issue seriously. On a grassroots level, we worked with survivors and advocates across the country to plan local screenings and spread the word.

By ensuring that a diverse American audience was able to view the Invisible War and respond to its call to action, the film helped to galvanize support among the public. Public broadcast reaches a broad audience that includes underserved veterans and minorities, in a way that smaller market broadcasts never could. A recent Washington Post poll found that 6 in 10 Americans now support fundamental reform.

Had the film been shown on premium channels, its viewership would have been limited and the impact of the film would have been greatly reduced. This film tackled an issue that for so long was kept buried and hidden from the American public—an issue that affects countless American veterans and service members to this day. By helping to shed a light on this scourge within our Armed Forces, the broadcast of this film has helped to ensure that victims of military sexual assault will no longer be silenced, and that they might eventually be afforded the justice they so deeply deserve.

Jenny Wells
Protect Our Defenders