FORMER HEAD OF MARINES SEXUAL ASSAULT AND PREVENTION UNIT JOINS PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS AS CEO IN RESPONSE TO MARINES UNITED SCANDAL
Marine Col Scott Jensen (Ret) brings depth of experience as combat commander — says ongoing sexual assault crisis affecting military readiness and jeopardizing nation’s ability to keep Americans safe; Superiors ignored Col Jensen’s recommendations for dealing with sexually explicit photo sharing scandal in Marines
Washington, D.C. — Today, Protect Our Defenders (POD) announced that the former head of the Marine Corps’ sexual assault prevention and assault unit, Scott Jensen, Colonel, USMC (Ret.), is joining the organization as Chief Executive Officer. Col Jensen will oversee POD’s efforts to reform the military’s approach to sexual assault and prevention. The announcement comes a day after a #MeTooMilitary protest outside the Pentagon organized and co-sponsored by Protect Our Defenders and the Service Women’s Action Network to raise awareness about military sexual assault.
“As a combat commander, Col Jensen brings an authority to the debate of ending sexual violence in the military that has been lacking,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). “His breadth of experience and understanding can help shed light on an issue that has purposefully been kept in the dark for far too long and I am grateful that he has decided to continue his service to the men and women in uniform with Protect Our Defenders. As the ranking Senator on the Armed Services subcommittee for Personnel I look forward to working closely with Col Jensen to reform the military justice system.”
“In a combat zone we ask servicemembers to risk their lives and put their trust in the hands of their fellow troops and commanding officers. If these brave men and women are being sexually assaulted and having their trust violated, it ultimately chips away at the readiness of the unit to be able to go and do their principle mission for national security,” said Col Scott Jensen USMC (Ret), CEO of Protect Our Defenders. “We have to create a more professional and transparent legal system in the military. It’s going to take pressure from the public and good laws from Congress to make that change happen, and Protect Our Defenders is leading that charge.”
“I applaud Protect our Defenders for adding this vital voice in the fight for cultural and legal reforms in the military,” said Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA). “Col Jensen brings a credibility in both command and war fighting perspectives on how sexual assault, harassment and gender discrimination is undermining our national security and ability to retain the best and brightest.”
Col Jensen brings a depth of experience as a combat commander and military leader. During his military career he grew deeply concerned that senior leadership was not taking the issue of sexual assault and harassment seriously. He believed that ignoring this crisis was affecting military readiness, and jeopardizing our nation’s ability to keep Americans safe at home and abroad. After 27 years he decided to leave in June 2016 — knowing he could push for more effective change from the outside. The Marines United sexually explicit photo sharing scandal was the final straw in his decision to join POD. He aggressively sought to draw attention to this issue, but his solutions fell on deaf ears.
“Col Jensen brings a commander and warfighter’s perspective to the fight against sexual assault, harassment and misogyny in the military,” said POD Founder and Board Co-Chair Nancy Parrish. “He has a keen understanding of the impact of this scourge on military readiness, retention and recruiting. We are thrilled to add Col Jensen’s leadership and depth of experience to our executive team as we open a new chapter in tackling this crisis.”
Col Jensen served in the Marines from 1989 to 2016, where he participated in peacekeeping operations in Somalia, noncombatant evacuation operations in Rwanda, Operation Southern Watch in Kuwait, and commanded during combat operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Col Jensen completed his military service by serving as the Chief of the Marine Corps’ Behavioral Programs, where he was responsible for developing and leading programs that included the Marine Corps’ Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, Suicide Prevention, Domestic Violence Prevention and Response, Community Counseling Services, and Substance Abuse and Drug Demand Reduction Programs. His personal decorations include two Legion of Merit medals, three Bronze Stars, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and two Meritorious Service Medals.
“Scott Jensen is first and foremost a warrior. He deployed to combat more times than any field grade officer I knew, and he was exactly the right leader for difficult times. He was successful because he looked beyond the mission at hand and saw the big picture-that his unit’s success was only possible if his Marines worked together and trusted each other,” said Maj Gen Christopher S. Owens, USMC (Ret). “Col Jensen understands that any loss of trust can have life-changing, or life-ending consequences. Sexual assault devastates that trust and makes us weaker as a unit, as a military, and a nation. In this new position I know he will work as tirelessly as he did in the Marines, with a commitment to making our nation safer, and to making all of our service members safer as well.”
In a combat zone we ask people risk their very lives with the confidence that the person on their left and right is going to take care of them. If people are being sexually assaulted, to have that trust violated so violently, it’s ultimately chipping at the readiness of the unit to be able to go and do their principle mission for national security.
I spent 27 years in service as a warfighter, as a commander, and then I was asked to led the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program for the Marine Corps.
I don’t believe right now that our leadership takes harassment and sexual assault seriously. We can’t continue to have senior officers protect those who should be held accountable, commanders make decisions that everywhere else in society trained prosecutors make.
With all that we see in the press right now, the light that’s being shed on harassment and sexual assault my biggest frustration is, where are the men who are standing up and saying enough. I simply couldn’t stand by anymore.
When I saw the opportunity with Protect Our Defenders to seek reform, I just knew I had to be part of it. We have to create a more professional and transparent legal system in the military. It’s going to take pressure from the public and good laws from Congress to make that change happen. I think it can happen. I believe we are at a tipping point.
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