By Theresa Braine
Friday, November 19, 2010
Investigative journalists with TV station KHOU-Houston started with a tip about Texas National Guard officers publicly degrading a lower-ranking woman. That led to a wider story of abuse that has earned numerous national awards.
Greenblatt's commitment to the story was intensified by a 2008 congressional inquiry into allegations of systemic discrimination against women in the Texas National Guard.
"What really struck me immediately in hearing about it and talking to congressional staffers was the senior nature and accomplished nature of the women who had joined together to complain to congress,"Greenblatt said. They were a medical doctor from Johns Hopkins, a colonel who had served in Iraq and other high-ranking women.
At first the women in the Texas Guard wanted nothing to do with reporters.
"They were very hesitant at first because in the military they teach you to never air your dirty laundry,"Greenblatt said. "What they ended up (doing) was helping take a cancer out. And I think that's how they came around to seeing their role as well."
He persuaded former Command Chief Rita Goudeau, one of the instigators of the congressional investigation, to talk and get her colleagues to do the same.
"I promised her one thing,"Greenblatt said. "I told her that I would see her story through to the end."
A pivotal source among the women turned out to be Colonel Sue Hechinger, a decorated officer who had been pushed out of the guard for supposedly failing to perform her Texas-based job duties while on tour in Iraq.
She, like the other women, held back. But Hechinger ended up giving Greenblatt and his team some key information. For a time she acted as an informal liaison between Greenblatt and her colleagues who were dead set against talking to the media.
"In the military we have kind of a rule of thumb; that you don't talk to the media,"Hechinger told Women's eNews. "You leave it to the public affairs person. That was how we felt about this."
However, she said, Greenblatt won her over.
"He really took on our cause and owned it, and he was the right guy at the right time,"Hechinger said. "Mark's personal integrity and honor would have made him a brilliant officer and someone a commander would have been lucky to have in their unit."
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Journalist Theresa Braine covers international and other topics from New York City.
"Under Fire: Discrimination and Corruption in the Texas National Guard":
The 2009 Investigative Reporters and Editors Medal:
2010 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism:
2009 Peabody Award Honoring Achievement in Television:
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