CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – A high-ranking Army official at Fort Bragg is under fire for what he tweeted about his friend.
The tweet from an official account, which has since been deleted, talked about a veteran’s breast size. Victims and advocates say the tweet sexualizes women in the workplace and contributes to the sexual misconduct culture in the military.
“We apologize for anyone who’s offended,” said Rick Dickson, the public affairs director for the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg. “It’s certainly not meant to be that way.”
“I’ll definitely do better on what I post from here on out,” he added.
On Saturday, Dickson posted a selfie with a woman inside a car identified as one of his “best friends” and a fellow veteran who fought in Iraq. Many of the responses to the photo were crude remarks about the woman’s breasts. Instead of criticizing those comments, Dickson publicly shared the woman’s bra size on his verified work account.
“Obviously all the likes were because of me,” Dickson remarked.
“G’s, btw [by the way],” he added, referring to the woman’s bra size.
Several veterans reacted in disgust to the comment.
“A @USArmy PAO [public affairs officer] posting the cup size of a woman’s breast is certainly not something that would contribute to the sexual misconduct culture of the military… right?,” one veteran tweeted.
“He posted it on his work Twitter account because that’s how comfortable the environment is with sexualizing women in the workplace,” tweeted a female veteran.
Dickson deleted the tweet and later posted an apology video with his friend to give “context” to his comment.
“Really,” he said, “it was a jab to correct them because they were all commenting about it and she wanted to provide the factual” cup size.
“The correction,” the woman, who is not identified, said.
“If you’re going to take time out of your day to degrade me, then at least be factual with it,” she added in the video apology. “The size was incorrect. So I gave the right size.”
She said it did not bother her that the information was put online. Dickson did not offer an immediate comment when reached late Monday.
Former Army Capt. Erin Scanlon was among those offended by the comment, which she calls “highly offensive,” objectifying, and marginalizes efforts to change the culture.
“The first thing I thought was this is why we’re not making any progress,” said Scanlon. “If anyone had started commenting something inappropriate, he should have shut that down right away instead of responding to it and feeding into it.”
Dickson’s tweet comes just two days after the Department of Defense released a new report showing sexual harassment and assaults in the military are up. Last year, there was a one percent increase with 6,290 assaults alleged to have occurred during military service. In 2019, 6,236 assaults were alleged to have occurred on duty.
“Major transformational change is not only needed in the military justice system,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA). “But also in the culture and command climate in the military.”
Speier introduced the #IAmVanessaGuillen Act last year but it failed to get a vote.
Last week, the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act was reintroduced in Congress. If passed, it would take sexual misconduct investigations out of the military chain-of-command.
“Clearly, as we can see,” said Scanlon, “because the chain-of-command at Fort Bragg doesn’t take sexual harassment very seriously.”
The attorney representing the family of Vanessa Guillen – the Fort Hood soldier who was sexually harassed and murdered – expressed disappointment with Dickson’s tweet.
“With today’s climate,” said attorney Natalie Khawam, “one would hope a public affairs officer wouldn’t perpetuate or even flirt with objectifying ones sister in arms.”
FOX 46 reached out to Fort Bragg’s public affairs office for comment but did not hear back.