Last week Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced that her first hearing as chair of the Senate Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee would focus on oversight of military sexual assault cases.
The hearing will take place THIS WEDNESDAY, March 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and we’re headed to the Hill to see it happen! But whether you’re online--watching along on the livestream HERE--or on the ground in Washington, D.C., we hope that you’ll join us.
Help us thank Sen. Gilibrand for her leadership on this issue – send her a Tweet:
Newly minted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel nominated Maj. Gen Michelle Johnson to be the new superintendent of the Air Force Academy on Friday, setting her up to be the first woman to ever hold the position.
Politico has the full story on the nomination, from the Associated Press.
According to the Denver Post, Maj. Gen Johnson was the first female cadet wing commander to graduate from the Air Force Academy in 1981 and has since ascended the ranks to three-star general. If appointed, she would be the second woman to helm a service academy, following in the footsteps after Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, who was named superintendent of the United States Coast Guard Academy in 2011.
As the head of the Air Force Academy, Maj. Gen. Johnson will be in charge of setting the tone for a new generation of Air Force leaders—meaning she can help make sure that “Zero Tolerance” of sexual assault is more than just rhetoric.
We congratulate Maj. Gen. Johnson on her appointment and hope that under her leadership, the Air Force Academy will lead the way in preventing sexual assault among attendees.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants Congress to tackle the 19,000 sex assaults per year in the armed forces. She'll take up the subject in her new role as chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel.
Next month’s hearing is believed to be the first the U.S. Senate has convened on the problem since 1997. Gillibrand will summon sexual assault victims and military officials to the hearing to discuss what can be done to stop it.
It's been called the Invisible War — the epidemic of sexual assault in the military.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said Friday she wants Congress to tackle this “reprehensible problem” — and so she will summon sexual assault victims and military brass to a hearing to explore what to do about it.
It will be her first hearing in her new role as chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel.
“We have 19,000 sexual assaults a year happening — and only a small handful of perpetrators being prosecuted and discharged,” she told the Daily News.
When Kirby and I first set out on this journey, we were shocked and outraged by the epidemic of rape within our military. The numbers were startling. But so are numbers like 35 million: average viewership of the Oscars who last night heard Ben Affleck address this very problem on stage and telecast around the world.
From the Academy to the Spirit Awards, it was a jam-packed weekend! On Saturday we were incredibly proud to take home a Spirit Independent Award for Best Documentary Feature -- another recognition of the powerful story THE INVISIBLE WAR tells through our survivors' eyes.
These past few weeks -- from Hollywood to Washington -- have been filled with milestones, all of which we reached with your support. At the beginning, we couldn't believe how little people spoke or knew about the tragedy of Military Sexual Assault -- not to mention how psychologically damaging it was, and the extent of the institutional cover-up.
Yesterday, Capitol Hill was abuzz as the Senate Armed Services Committee questioned Senator Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Throughout the six-hour hearing, our allies like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Richard Blumenthal raised the question of how Hagel, should he be confirmed, would continue to push through reforms and insurances that military survivors be not only allowed pathways to justice but afforded the care and support they deserve.
Great article by Kay Steiger at Raw Story on the recent Government Accountability Office report that indicates less than adequate care for survivors of military sexual assault.
Some women in the military are still receiving inadequate care for sexual assault, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report <http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-182> published Tuesday found. The report found that “not all first responders had completed the required training,” even after a 2005 Department of Defense directive mandated “a comprehensive policy for the prevention of and response to sexual assault.” One servicewoman even reported an inability to gain access to yeast infection treatment.
Though GAO found that the military “has not established guidance for the treatment of injuries stemming from sexual assault — a crime that requires a specialized level of care.” Often, officers assigned to be “victim advocates” for those who had suffered sexual assault “are not always aware of the specific health care services available to sexual assault victims.”
GAO investigated three military installations in the United States and seven Afganistan installations, as well as looking at eight Navy ships. The investigators talked to 92 servicewomen, 60 of whom said they believed they were receiving “generally” adequate care, but 8 reported deficiencies in female-specific health care.
“At one location we visited in Afghanistan,” the report said, “a female airman told us that she believed the military was trying to meet the health needs of women, but still had work to do—noting, for example, that a medication she was prescribed had given her yeast infections.”
The biggest barrier seems to be confidentiality. As Wired reported <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/01/pentagon-sexual-abuse/> , “Sexual assault cases can be reported in the military using two ways: unrestricted reports and restricted reports. For an unrestricted report, a survivor reports an assault to superiors and military law enforcement, who — in theory — begin an investigation, and provide medical care and counseling. A restricted report, on the other hand, allows a survivor to confidentially inform superiors about the assault without sparking a criminal investigation. The survivor, according to military policy <http://www.sexualassault.army.mil/content/policy_restricted_unrestricted_reporting.cfm> , should still receive medical care, but personally identifying information will be kept anonymous.”
But the GAO found that policies on the ground are inconsistent and often contradict the ability of servicewomen to file a confidential report of sexual assault. In at least one facility, “the policy was silent on the issue of sexual assault.” At another, “a command’s medical policy contained requirements for health care personnel that conflicted with their responsibilities under restricted reporting.”
This is problematic, because, as the report said, “As a consequence, sexual assault victims who want to keep their case confidential may be reluctant to seek medical care.” The report concluded that “such factors can undermine DOD’s efforts to address the problem of sexual assault.”
Posted by Congressman Mike Turner · January 23, 2013 6:13 PM
· 85 reactions
As your Representative, I began working on the issue of sexual assault in the military in 2007 when we learned of the tragic story of Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach (USMC). Maria was a young woman from southwest Ohio who was serving her country honorably when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by a senior enlisted servicemember. Eight months later, she and her unborn child were murdered by that accused servicemember.
Maria’s mother Mary Lauterbach, and Dayton attorney Merle Wilberding have been integral in helping me find legislative solutions to the many problems Maria faced in the military justice system.
This past year, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, of Massachusetts and I created the bipartisan Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus with the intent of educating Members of Congress on the serious problem of sexual assault in the military. In furtherance of this effort, the Caucus sponsored a screening of The Invisible War at the Library of Congress last February. Since that time it has been viewed by countless Americans, servicemembers, legislators and leaders in our Department of Defense and has received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature. The nomination of The Invisible War is certainly welcome news and has been helpful in raising the awareness of sexual assault in the military.
With the help of the Secretary Leon Panetta and leaders at the Department of Defense, we are currently working to implement several policy changes on dealing with sexual assault. This includes increased access to legal counsel, a provision in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, to maintain a victim-focused system. Recently, the United States Air Force announced the full implementation of new pilot program, which builds upon the right to legal counsel. These recent changes along with years of work with the House Armed Services Committee have begun to change how this issue is dealt with inside our military. For far too long, the issue of sexual assault had gone unchecked.
I must commend the efforts of Pentagon leaders, including Secretary Panetta, as well as U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh for their continued efforts on behalf of our servicemembers. By combating the issue of sexual assault in the ranks, we are strengthening the morale and readiness of our bravest citizens. I hope through the story of Maria and The Invisible War, we can continue on a path towards ending the crime of sexual assault in our military.
This article was originally posted by Kevin Miller at The Portland Press Harold on January 10, 2013
A documentary film about sexual assault in the military that includes interviews with U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, was nominated for an Academy Award on Thursday.
"The Invisible War" is a hard-hitting documentary on the U.S. military’s poor record for investigating and prosecuting rape or other sexual assault incidents. The widely acclaimed movie, which won the audience award for best documentary at the Sundance Festival in 2012, has drawn public attention to sexual assaults in the military and helped spur action in Congress as well as within the Defense Department.
The documentary features interviews with numerous survivors of sexual assault and their subsequent experiences dealing with a military culture in which only 8 percent of sexual assaults crimes are prosecuted and only 2 percent result in convictions, according to the filmmakers. The Pentagon estimates that nearly 20,000 sexual assaults take place in the military every year.