Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus
In January 2012, Representatives Michael Turner and Niki Tsongas, long-time bipartisan partners in addressing the epidemic of sexual assault in the military, formed the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus, inviting all Members of the House of Representatives to join them in combating sexual assault in the military. This caucus, made up of Members of the House, serves as a forum to discuss and form solutions to the issue of sexual assault in our military. The group now has 35 members.
On April 16, 2012, in a meeting with the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus and the Caucus on Women in the Military, Secretary Panetta announced a series of new initiatives designed to combat sexual assault in the military. These changes include taking the authority to handle sexual assault cases out of the hands of junior commanders. This is a change that Congressman Turner and Congresswoman Tsongas had been pushing through their positions on the Armed Services Committee.
Tsongas and Turner authored the Defense STRONG Act in order to expand the legal rights of service members who have been victims of sexual assault and to improve and strengthen prevention efforts within the Department of Defense. This bipartisan legislation, signed into law by President Obama earlier this year includes provisions that grant victims the right to a base transfer, the right to legal counsel, the right to confidentiality when seeking assistance from an advocate, and mandates greater training for sexual assault prevention at every level of the Armed Services.
Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), co-chair
Congresswomen Niki Tsongas is currently serving in her third term representing the Fifth Congressional District of Massachusetts as a member of the US House of Representatives. Having grown up in a military family, Tsongas has made protecting our troops, both when they are serving in harm’s way and when returning home, one of her highest priorities.
Tsongas has also worked through the Armed Services Committee to provide troops serving in Afghanistan with lighter-weight and better fitting body armor, as well as to improve health care services for female soldiers and to improve PTSD detection.
READ: Rep. Tsongas’ recent piece on the Huffington Post, “Properly Addressing Sexual Assault in the Military”
Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), co-chair
Congressman Mike Turner was elected to the House of Representatives in 2002 and serves as the Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces as well as on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Turner, who has been a leading advocate on the issue of sexual assault in the military, has introduced the Defense Sexual Trauma Response and Good Governance (STRONG) Act.
Many of this bill’s provisions were included in the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act and have become law. Key accomplishments include provisions that:
- Military Protective Orders (MPO) be made standing orders and that civilian authorities be notified when an MPO is issued and affects off-base personnel
- Required the SARPO Director position to be filled by a General Officer
- Gave victims a right to base or unit transfer
- Provided victims a right to counsel
- Created privileges to conversation between victims and the victims advocates
READ: Rep. Turner's request for an immediate briefing with General Edward A. Rice Jr., Commander of Air Education and Training Command, regarding widespread sexual assault allegations at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
Elected in 1986 to represent Western New York in the United States House of Representatives, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY-28) is the Ranking Member of the influential Committee on Rules. From 2007 until 2011, Congresswoman Slaughter served as the Chairwoman of the Committee on Rules, making her the first woman in history to serve in that role. A member of the House Democratic Leadership, she also serves on the prestigious Democratic Steering & Policy Committee.
Slaughter has been a leading advocate for active military members and their families, as well as veterans of our armed forces. In addition to her extensive work on preventing and responding to sexual assault in the military, she has also led the fight for greater standards for body armor for active duty servicemen and women, supported legislation that provides quality affordable healthcare for veterans and fought for increased funding for programs that combat homelessness among veterans.
Rep. Slaughter’s latest work on this issue addresses retaliation against those survivors who report sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military. The Slaughter Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act requires the Secretary of Defense create an education campaign to notify members of the Armed Forces of their rights in addressing retaliatory personnel actions after reporting sexual harassment of assault.
Learn more about Rep. Slaughter’s work to combat Military Sexual Assault.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)
Congresswoman Jackie Speier represents California’s 12th District that includes San Mateo and South San Francisco. She is best known for her passionate and compelling speeches on the House floor, such as her spontaneous response to a congressional colleague who trivialized women who - like her - have had medically necessary second trimester abortions. She routinely speaks on the House floor about men and women in our armed forces who have been raped or sexually assaulted while in the line of duty. She has also taken a lead role in working with the veterans organizations to improve delivery of VA benefits to Bay Area veterans. In 2012 Newseek named Jackie to its list of 150 “fearless women” in the world.
See all of Rep. Speier’s 21 speeches on Military Sexual Assault to date.