Jennifer: Good morning, everyone."
"Full disclosure I'm a total crier
So, you know, at the drop of a hat, I just wanna say, I'm so happy to be here. When SWAN asked me if I would be available to attend this years summit I knew I had to find a way to be here.
I think, um, many people have veterans in their family and I'm no different in that regard.
My grandfather served in Nantes, France at the Base Camp during the Second World War. He had been part of a choir back home and when he reached the Base he took it upon himself to form a choir, that went around the camp singing to help raise the soldier's spirits
For me it's hard to imagine such a thing... Now. um, I can not even begin to tell you how honoured I am to be here with all of you today . I have so much respect and admiration for all of you. I know that it's not easy to leave your homes and come all the way to Washington DC to share your experiences. But I have to say you have all been on my mind for quite some time now.
A few years ago I had this dream of creating a project based around a female warrior and at first it took different forms some were more mythic than others and then I started doing research on what it meant to be a female soldier in today's military and I realized that that was the story that I had to tell. Shortly after I began research for my own project which is now been developed at HBO.
My friend Jon Avnet invited me to play the character Major Stone in a YouTube WIG series called 'Lauren'. The character of Lauren, which is played so beautifully by Troian Bellisario is uh, no kidding, she's amazing on so many different levels. uh, But in any case this character is raped by several fellow officers
and seeks justice through her commanding officer, Major Stone. And Stone is someone who is making decisions in a broken system in which power and influence determine whether or not Sergeant Lauren Weil will get any justice for the crime committed against her. Stone has her own story of MST but instead of speaking up, she's chosen to remain silent and that silence has ossified her, to a great degree.
As I continued my research in preparation to play Major Stone I was outraged, by what I learned. I was outraged that someone would call rape in the military an occupational hazard. That the military culture would allow, would allow, pray chants that included rhymes about dismembering women. That women weren't drinking water after a certain hour, while serving in the desert heat so they wouldn't have to go to the latrine alone at night. And then I learned that all these things that I thought were happening to women were also happening to men.
Well, I gotta say, you know, rage can be really valuable. Rage when...
This isn't even the part where I thought I was gonna cry
Like this is way early in the scene, like you gotta save it
So take two
um, Rage when coupled with love can be like rocket fuel
I know... you are here as I am...
This is still too early
I know you are here as I am because you are not only enraged but because you want change.
Your rage and sadness, I know, is coupled with your love for the person who may come after you.
I have faith that your love will be their shield. I have faith that your truth will be their sword. There is nothing more powerful on this earth, than love,
NOTHING!
And when it is married to the truth and that truth is told over and over and over again by more and more and more voices it has the ability to create powerful and lasting change.
Look around you, really look at the person next to you. Acknowledge them, they all of them, they have a story inside of them as you do. That can change the world. You are all courageous.
The root of the word courage comes from the French word 'cœur' which means heart. And as a friend of mine once said to me... To be courageous is to tell your life story with your whole heart.
I am here, not to cry constantly but to encourage you to tell your story with your whole heart. Knowing that it will mean all the difference not just to you, not just to the service men and women who come after you but to all of us. To uplift and acknowledge the individual, is to uplift and acknowledge the group in it's entirety. None of us is made whole until all of us are made whole.
You guys are so nice....
uh, SWAN assured some really important goals with me for this summit. We want the power of your voices
to echo and become amplified around the Nation this week. I've learned that the Military and the Department
of Veterans Affairs has a lot of work to do to make sure that sexual violence in the ranks ends and that survivors get the resources and benefits they need to move forward.
First we need to change the way the Military Criminal Justice System works so that cases are handled from beginning to end by impartial prosecutors and judges, NOT commanding officers. And second we need to make sure that veterans who have experienced Military Sexual Trauma get their VA claims approved. Because we have to stop blaming our troops when they have been the victims of crimes. We have to support them for coming forward to tell their story, not betray them. We have to help them be seen and heard, not make them invisible.
So...Go take the hill!
I was just there yesterday. Don't take any bullshi. Okay?
Love is the shield, truth is the sword. Know that you inspire me, your encourage inspires me, and know...
This is it, this is the moment
Know that my grandpa is somewhere, singing for you all!
Thank you for your voices, your bravery and your service. Thanks!"

-----------

Video - Photos

transcript by ladywesty