Protect Our Defenders (POD) is the only national organization solely dedicated to addressing the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military and to combating a culture of pervasive sexual harassment and retribution against victims. We honor, support and give voice to survivors of military sexual assault – including both service members and civilians assaulted by members of the military.
We seek reform to ensure all survivors have access to a fair, impartially administered system of justice.
The women and men who serve in our Armed Forces should not have to work in an environment where harassment and sexual assault is widespread and victims face retribution for reporting their assaults. Service members deserve a system of justice worthy of the American principles they have dedicated their lives to protect.
The prevalence of rape, harassment, retaliation and misogyny in the military and a culture that has allowed it to persist erode military values of integrity and sacrifice, undermine good order and discipline and exacerbate existing inequalities for women, people of color and LGBTQ service members. Reforming this culture will strengthen our military, and promote unit cohesion and morale.
Protect Our Defenders has a deep understanding of military process and procedure. We work respectfully and collaboratively, engaging stakeholders who can speak from personal experience about the need for reform, to promote change from outside and from within the military.
Protect Our Defenders deploys a multifaceted effort towards reform. Every day, through policy reform, advocacy, public education, and pro bono support, we work to provide those who serve in our military a safe and respectful environment free from harassment and abuse, and to create a justice system that can fairly and effectively adjudicate these crimes.
These efforts are directly informed by our work with survivors, their families, and current and former military members, and are grounded in our core values.
Policy Reform & Legal Advocacy
We engage in a multifaceted effort to change the culture of sexual abuse and harassment, empower victims, and create a fair and impartial system of justice for our service members that is transparent and accountable. We do this through policy advocacy, legal challenges in military courts, reports exposing systemic abuse, and by filing amicus briefs to protect the rights of survivors and enforce their rights.
Legal & Case Assistance
POD’s Pro Bono Network is the only program in the country providing free legal services specifically for survivors of military sexual assault and harassment. Services often include victim legal representation for the military justice process, protection from retaliation, discharge records corrections, and assistance with obtaining needed health care.
Research & Analysis
Members of Congress, stakeholders, survivors, advocates and the press rely on POD for fact-based analysis. We analyze and translate prevalence reports and research on sexual assault and harassment, synthesize the results into fact sheets, press for collection and disclosure of military data on demographics of and disparities affecting both the victim and the accused, educate the public and press on key findings, and collaborate on major research projects.
Education, Advocacy & Movement Building
POD supports survivors in their efforts to speak with the press, their members of Congress, and at local events across the country. We work with an ever-growing community of survivors, families, and civilian advocates to develop and disseminate calls to action and materials that educate and engage the civilian and military communities about the need for reform.
POD works with the media to provide expert analysis and break investigative reports. We dive deep into cases to expose misconduct and abuse within the military, and push to keep the issue of assault and harassment in the military at the forefront of public debate.