WASHINGTON, DC –Today, the Department of Defense will issue a report to the President on sexual assaults in the military and outlining several initiatives to combat the crimes. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH), co-chairs of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus, released the following joint statement.
“While these numbers continue to be concerning, the rise in reporting is a possible signal that legislative and military changes from recent years are having an encouraging impact and suggests that victims of sexual assault may be more comfortable coming forward. We are also optimistic about the success of the Special Victims Counsel program, which provides survivors with an attorney to walk them through the complicated military justice system.
But none of these findings obviate the simple fact that these heinous crimes continue to occur at an alarming rate, and that a majority of those who choose to report face retaliation. This year’s NDAA includes language we authored that requires that commanders be assessed on their ability to prevent retaliation because the military needs an environment where men and women can come forward without fear of retaliation or repercussion.
This report contains valuable information that the Department of Defense must use to take a hard look at itself and to better understand the deep and pervasive challenge it has. In the coming days we will be looking closely at this report, its findings and its proposals, and will work with survivors, support groups and our colleagues in Congress to examine its impact while continuing to pursue substantial legislative reforms.”