Finally…Now that Military Sexual Assaults are up 35% since 2010, two U.S Senators and two members of the U.S. House of Representatives have combined to unveil bicameral, bipartisan legislation they hope will once and for all address Sexual Assaults in the Military.
The four championing ARM13982, a bill to reform the currently flawed Military Justice System are:
- Senator Claire McCaskill, Missouri: Senate Armed Services Committee
- Senator Susan Collins, Maine: Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
- Congressman Mike Turner, Ohio: Armed Services Oversight and Government Reform
- Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, MA:Co-Chair of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus
The bill seeks:
To amend title 10, United States Code, to make certain improvements in
the Uniform Code of Military Justice related to sex-related offenses
committed by members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes.
The bill contains reforms to better address sexual assault prosecutions and aid survivors including provisions that:
- Remove a commander’s ability to overturn the findings of a court-martial in most cases
- Require a commander to provide written justification for any modifications made to a sentence, and require that they receive input from survivors before making any decision on clemency proceedings
- Require that a person found guilty of an offense of rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy, or an attempt to commit any of those offenses receive a punishment that includes, at a minimum, a dismissal or dishonorable discharge
- Eliminate the five-year statute of limitations on Trial by Courts-Martial for sexual assault and sexual assault of a child.
“The problems the U.S. military have had dealing with this issue-whether it’s aggressively prosecuting perpetrators or effectively protecting survivors-are well chronicled and have gone on far too long,” said U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a former county prosecutor and a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It’s time for the reforms contained in this bill, and I’m going to work with my colleagues in both chambers and in both parties to ensure that they’re enacted.”
“The Department of Defense has a no-tolerance policy towards sexual assault, but the culture does not match that policy,” said U.S. Senator Susan Collins, who supported the 2011 DEFENSE STRONG act. “Individuals who commit acts of rape or sexual assault have no place in the United States Armed Forces, an institution that depends upon the high standards, ethics, and character of its service members. This is an unacceptable situation and we must work together to address it.”
“With more outrageous revelations regarding sexual assault in the military, it’s clear further action is needed on this issue. By updating the BE SAFE Act (Better Enforcement for Sexual Assault Free Environments), which we have included in this year’s House NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), we will be taking those additional steps. Specifically, enhanced rights for victims provided in this bill will ensure they not being re-victimized and are treated with respect through the judicial proceedings,” said Congressman Mike Turner, Co-Chair of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus.
While it is clearly felt by virtually everyone in the United States that no person should ever have to endure the physical suffering and mental trauma of Sexual Assault, it has also become very clear in recent years that, left alone, the Military Justice System reflects neither public opinion nor religious sentiment in their judicial processes. Military judicial efforts have repeatedly shown to promote and retain those military members who commit rape, by systematically demoting and stigmatizing either the victim or any other military personnel who reports it.
Americans should all pray for guidance and support Congressional efforts to put a stop to the growing nightmare. It is our moral, civil and civic duty to protect every last member of our United States Military from the current Military Justice System’s “Good old boy” practice of burying these traumatic injustices. Sweeping these crimes under the rug is an unconscionable act that simultaneously encourages and rewards the sexual predators thriving inside the Military because of it.
-VFWlady, Laurie Cox