The Commitment to Protect Military Women & Men from Sexual Harassment & Assault to Strengthen National Security
For decades, the United States military has been plagued by a crisis of sexual assault, harassment and victim retribution. DOD estimates of sexual assault and rape of active duty members have skyrocketed by 38% and the risk of assault for servicewomen has increased by 50% since 2016. At the military service academies, estimates of sexual assault have doubled since 2014. While sexual assault and rape reports have increased, convictions remain dismally low. And, prosecutions and convictions have plummeted under the existing commander-controlled system. Military women who report sexual assault are 12 times as likely to experience retaliation than to see their attacker convicted of a sex offense.
The women and men who bravely serve our country deserve a workplace free from sexual harassment, abuse and violence. As Senator, I pledge to create in our armed forces a safe and healthy environment where perpetrators are held accountable for their criminal actions. As a core part of this commitment, I will make fundamental reform of the military justice system a priority, empowering independent military prosecutors rather than commanders with the authority to make prosecutorial decisions for serious criminal conduct including rape, murder, sexual assault, and domestic abuse while leaving unique military crimes in the hands of commanders. In doing so, we will free commanders of conflicting responsibilities, improve their ability to maintain good order and discipline, prevent sexual harassment, strengthen national security, and better enable the military to recruit, retain, and promote the nation’s best and brightest.
I understand this to be the collective responsibility of our lawmakers and military leadership and a commitment we owe to our servicewomen and men, our armed forces, and the entire nation.