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Capital Gazette: More must be done to prevent sexual assault in the military

Jul 5, 2013
I am very troubled by the recent statistics documenting the prevalence of sexual assault and rape in the military. As a member of its Board of Visitors, I am especially concerned about recent allegations involving athletes at the Naval Academy.
When a member of the United States military is assaulted, not only do the victims suffer, but so does our military readiness and morale. It is simply unacceptable and the current system in place to prevent and investigate sexual assault in the military is failing.
Congress has begun working on this critical issue. Last year, the annual military funding bill contained significant improvements in the military’s response to sexual assault – things like guarantees for victims’ access to legal counsel, protections for their privacy and a new requirement that commanders approve a victims’ request to transfer duty stations. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation requiring an Inspector General investigation into allegations of retaliation against victims of alleged rape, sexual assault or other forms of sexual misconduct in the military.
I was proud to support these efforts and will continue to look for ways to ensure zero tolerance for sexual assault in the ranks. Some people have suggested taking the investigation and prosecution of assault out of the chain-of-command. All options should be on the table. As our troops risk their lives to protect us here at home, we must provide greater protections to them.