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PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS LAUNCHES NATIONAL CAMPAIGN CALLING ON PRESIDENT OBAMA TO STAND WITH VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND FIX THE BROKEN MILITARY JUSTICE SYSTEM
More Survivors Come Forward Calling on Commander-in-Chief to Support Fundamental Reform, Ads Appearing in the New York Times, Washington Post and Politico, Asking Americans to Stand With Them
Washington DC – Today, Protect Our Defenders launched a national campaign to educate lawmakers and the public on the military justice system’s structural failings to protect victims of rape and sexual assault. As part of the campaign, 12 survivors of military sexual abuse have come forward publicly to ask President Obama to declare that after 20 years of “zero tolerance,” a year filled with news of retaliation against victims, and a new survey showing no progress over the past eight years, it’s time to change the military justice system.
Protect Our Defenders sent a photographer across the country this year to meet with survivors and capture stories of their experiences of sexual assault, harassment and retaliation while serving our country. By sharing such moving images and detailing the accounts of their own personal experiences, these brave veterans put forth a searing indictment of the epidemic of military sexual assault. Their photos and stories are appearing in ads in the New York Times, Washington Post and Politico as part of this campaign – encouraging Americans to join with them in asking the President to fix the broken system.
The survivors featured in the campaign are just a few among thousands of victims who have been retaliated against by their chain of command after reporting sexual abuse and being denied access to a fair and impartial justice system.
You can read the stories and see photos of survivors on the campaign’s website.
“Protect Our Defenders thanks the brave survivors who have come forward to call on the President to take decisive action on this crippling epidemic plaguing our military,” said Protect Our Defenders President, Don Christensen, Colonel (ret.) USAF. “The DoD’s report card is in. President Obama gave the military a year to solve this crisis on their own, and they have failed to meaningfully address this issue. I’ve seen it in my experience as the former chief prosecutor of the Air Force. The public has seen it through damning investigative reports and heart-wrenching stories from victims.”
“When President Obama signed the repeal of the military’s discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy, he said that reform would increase military readiness, strengthen our country’s national security and bring us closer to the principles of equality and fairness that define us as Americans,” said Christensen. “Fixing the broken military justice system is another critical step in realizing those goals.”
Stacey Thompson, a former Marine, described her experience while serving in the Marines for the campaign:
I joined the Marines Corps at age 17 and I’ll never forget the look of pride in my father’s eyes when I graduated Bootcamp. Within the first few weeks, I was sexually harassed by a Senior Marine and although I reported it, nothing was done. A few months later, I was raped by my Sergeant. After reporting the rape, I was retaliated against by the people I trusted to execute justice. As a mother of three I know the instinct of a parent to protect and defend our children.
Last year, President Obama said that he had victims’ backs. He gave the Department of Defense one year to show progress. But last week, the Pentagon released a report showing that estimates of sexual assaults are at the same level they were four years ago. And the rate of retaliation against victims, 62%, is the same it was last year. Even after passing a bill last year to prosecute those who retaliate against victims, not one soldier has been charged with retaliation. The news over the past 12 months has been filled with one scandal after another involving retaliation against those who report sexual assaults.
Protect Our Defenders Campaign Calling on President Obama to Reform the Military Justice System
[VIDEO] Remarks from Protect Our Defenders President Don Christensen at Military Justice Improvement Act Press Conference with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
USA Today: Gillibrand makes new push on military sex assault bill
Yahoo News: Former chief Air Force prosecutor ‘outraged’ by military’s handling of sexual-assault cases
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 www.protectourdefenders.com or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ProtectOurDefenders or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ProtectRDfnders.
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.