Protect Our Defenders News Blog


Media Advisory: Military Sexual Assault Survivors to Hold Briefing Ahead of Congressional Hearing on Lackland Scandal


January 23, 2013
Contact: Brian Purchia,

**Prior to the Lackland hearing, Protect Our Defenders will hold a media briefing with military sexual assault survivors in the Rayburn House Office Building (Room 2456) at 9AM. Survivors will walk with TSgt Jennifer Norris, USAF Ret. to the hearing.



Protect Our Defenders brings Tailhook whistleblower, Paula Coughlin-Puopolo and other military sexual assault survivors to Washington, DC that demanded the Chairman of House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon hold a hearing and open investigation about sexual abuse scandal at Lackland Air Force Base

Air Force Veteran Jessica Hinves and Attorney Susan Burke from the Oscar nominated film “The Invisible War” to attend briefing. Jessica’s assailant was awarded the 
“Airman of the Year”

Washington DC – TSgt Jennifer Norris, USAF Ret., a Protect Our Defenders Advocacy Board member, national victim advocate with the Military Rape Crisis Center and sexual abuse survivor will testify in front of House Armed Services Committee (HASC) on Wednesday, January 23rd at 10AM about the ongoing sexual abuse scandal at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas (*Hearing will be streamed live on the HASC website). Before and after the hearing, military sexual assault survivors will hold a briefing about the widening scandal at Lackland and outline the steps that the military, Congress and our President must take to end the “silent epidemic” in 2013.

In August 2012, Jennifer went to our nation’s capital ahead of a closed-door congressional hearing on the criminal scandal at Lackland with Tailhook whistleblower, Paula Coughlin-Puopolo, fellow military sexual assault survivors Brian Lewis, former sailor Jenny McClendon and Air Force veteran Jessica Hinves. Jessica wasfeatured in the Oscar nominated film, The Invisible War. Her assailant was awarded the ‘Airman of the Year.” The veterans delivered more than 10,000 petitions to the Chairman of House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Los Angeles County) demanding an open hearing and investigation into Lackland.

In July 2012, Paula started the online Lackland petition on and Protect Our Defenders demanding Rep. McKeon open a congressional hearing about Lackland. So far at least 59 known female and male trainees at the Air Force’s sole recruiting center say they were raped, sexually assaulted or subject to other criminal offenses by their instructors. The Air Force’s new Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark Welsh III has told Congress, “what we have been doing is not working” to address the epidemic of sexual assault in the military. The House Armed Services has promised to hold “open and complete” hearings about the Lackland scandal.

Seventy-eight members of Congress called on Rep. Buck McKeon to open a Lackland hearing. The military estimates that there are 19,000 military rapes and sexual assaults a year, but only 3,200 victims reported the attacks and out of those only 191 cases resulted in court martial conviction. And of those “convicted,” a number received non judicial punishment. The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that there are now over a half a million veterans that have experienced military sexual trauma.


WHAT:            Briefing with Military Sexual Assault Survivors Ahead of Lackland Hearing

WHO:               Paula Coughlin-Puopolo, Tailhook Whistleblower, former Naval Aviator, Protect Our Defenders’ Advocacy Board Member
Brian Lewis, Navy Veteran, Protect Our Defenders’ Advocacy Board Member
Terri Odom, Navy Veteran, Protect Our Defenders Advocacy Board Member
Attorney Susan Burke

*Survivors and Protect Our Defenders President, Nancy Parrish are available for interviews before the event.

WHEN:             9 AM EST, January 23, 2013
*Following the event survivors will walk with TSgt Jennifer Norris, USAF Ret. to the hearing.

WHERE: 2456 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

*Please RSVP to


WHAT:            HASC Review of sexual misconduct by basic training instructors at Lackland Air Force Base

(Room opens at 8:00 AM EST for credentialed press) 



General Mark A. Welsh III, USAF
Chief of Staff
U.S. Air Force

General Edward A. Rice, Jr., USAF
Commander, Air Education and Training Command
U.S. Air Force 

Panel 2:

David Lisak, Ph.D.
Forensic Consultant

CMSgt Cindy McNally, USAF (ret)
Service Women’s Action Network

TSgt Jennifer Norris, USAF (ret)

Protect Our Defenders

WHEN:             10 AM EST, January 23, 2013

*Hearing will be streamed live on the HASC website

2118 Rayburn House Office Building 

**Note for media covering the 10 AM hearing: The House Armed Services Committee reserves a press section for credentialed press only in the hearing room. This space is first come, first served. Only credentialed media personnel will be allowed to film in the hearing room and must coordinate with the House Radio and TV Gallery. Hearings with numerous filming requests will likely have a mandatory pool for TV coverage  — non pool cameras needing cut shots must coordinate with the House Radio and TV Gallery before entering the hearing room. Please Contact: Claude Chafin or John Noonan, (202) 225-2539

San Antonio Express-News: Hearings on Lackland are long overdue

San Antonio Current: Advocates: Lackland hearings should spark reforms, not more empty promises

NBC News: Civil Rights Commission urged to order audit of military sex-assault cases

NBC News: Air Force sexual abuse trial gets underway *Jennifer Norris profile

WOAI News: Congress will Probe Lackland Sex Scandal

ABC News: Activists Demand Congress Hold Open Hearing on Air Force Sexual Assaults

Paula Coughlin-Puopolo’s petition demanding Congress investigates the Lackland sexual assault scandal can be viewed here:

Contact info for the House Armed Services Committee:
Claude Chafin, (202) 225-4151

About Protect Our Defenders:
 Protect Our Defenders is a human rights organization.  We seek to honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been sexually assaulted while serving their country, and re-victimized by the military adjudication system – a system that often blames the victim and fails to prosecute the perpetrator. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at or on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at       

Protect Our Defenders partners with Attorney Susan Burke, Burke PLLC to advance lawsuits filed against the DoD and service academies for repeatedly ignoring rape, sexual assault and harassment, failing to prosecute perpetrators and retaliating against the victim.