FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2015
*** PRESS RELEASE ***
FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT JOINS
PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS ADVISORY BOARD
Washington, D.C. – Today, the human rights organization, Protect Our Defenders announced that former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has joined its Advisory Board. Dr. Albright served as Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, and is the first female to hold the position in U.S. history. In 2012, Dr. Albright received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.
Dr. Albright joins an advisory board that includes General Wesley Clark (ret.), Kwame Anthony Appiah, a recipient of the 2012 National Humanities Medal and the 2007 Arthur Ross award of the Council on Foreign Relations, along with Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, and Lt General Claudia Kennedy (ret.), the first female to reach the rank of three-star general in the U.S. Army and many survivors of sexual assault in the military and other advocates working to create a professional and unbiased military justice system.
Today, Dr. Albright released the following statement:
“As someone who has the deepest respect and admiration for the men and women of the United States military, I am honored to join Protect Our Defenders’ advisory board. I strongly support their efforts to give voice to service members who have been sexually assaulted or harassed, and to ensure that our military justice system is impartial and effective. These crimes go against the core values of the armed forces. Eradicating sexual assault and harassment from our military will make it stronger and better, and I am proud to stand behind this cause.”
Dr. Albright is the second former Secretary of State to announce her support for reforming the way the military handles sexual assault cases. The majority of the Senate and the American public support Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA). The bill would remove the decision to prosecute major felonies, including rape and sexual assault, from the conflicted and often-biased chain of command, and put it in the hands of professionally trained, independent military prosecutors.
Today, Protect Our Defenders President, Col. Don Christensen (ret.), released the following statement:
“I am humbled that Dr. Albright has graciously accepted our invitation to join Protect Our Defenders’ advisory board. Her years of experience as Secretary of State and her tireless advocacy work for human rights causes will be invaluable to our organization as we fight for a fair justice system for our troops.
“Good order and discipline continues to suffer because of an inherently conflicted justice system. The ongoing, but fixable sexual assault crisis is costing our military its best and brightest, and our country hundreds of millions of dollars every year. The military has forced commanders into an unwinnable situation. By creating a healthy and robust legal system, we can empower commanders to be commanders, and let independent prosecutors do their jobs.”
Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report detailing the systemic failure of the Department of Defense (DoD) to address the needs of male sexual assault survivors in its policies, prevention programming, performance metrics, or medical and mental health care. The report revealed a stunning refusal by the DoD to acknowledge the true scope and impact of military sexual assault.
The Military Times also broke a story earlier this year on the ongoing failure of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps to properly track mental health discharges of servicemembers. According to GAO Health Care Director, Randall Williamson, the Pentagon does not know whether the military has properly discharged servicemembers with serious combat-related conditions like PTSD or traumatic brain injury.
New York Times Magazine: The Military’s Rough Justice on Sexual Assault
Government Accountability Office: Actions Needed to Address Sexual Assaults of Male Servicemembers
Military Times: GAO: Shortfalls in tracking mental health discharges
About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders (POD) 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. POD provides pro bono casework and legal assistance to survivors. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at www.protectourdefenders.com or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ProtectOurDefenders or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ProtectRDfnders.