Diana Putman, a USAID health specialist working with the Pentagon’s Africa Command, spoke up about a poorly conceived idea of the State Department in concert with the US military. She spoke up all the way to the top of the chain of command, to the four-star head of Africa Command, General William “Kip” Ward.
Putman gave the General a brief pitch about the need to substantially revise a plan for US military involvement in providing short-term surgical or psychological treatment to women victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to instead constructing or rehabilitating buildings for use by NGOs who are already working with victims and who have the necessary linguistic and cultural skills to facilitate their work. The General agreed immediately.
On Thursday, Putman was one of three people by the US State Department with a “constructive dissent award.”
The story in the Washington Post never mentions the fact that Putnam is a cultural anthropologist. I figured she must be. I checked. She is: BA, MA and PhD, all from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.
Thanks, Dr. Putnam, for speaking truth to generals.
Image: “The visit” from flickr user cyclopspr, licensed Creative Commons.