Statement from Protect Our Defenders in Response to House Armed Services Committee Announcing Lackland Hearings

Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Contact: Brian Purchia,



*** Update *** “The Chairman [Rep. Buck McKeon] committed to holding hearings once the prosecutions have wrapped,” said Jaime Chesire, Rep. McKeon’s Sr. Advisor.

Washington DC – The House Armed Services Committee announced to 1200 WOAI news yesterday that it will hold “open and complete” hearings into the sexual abuse scandal at Lackland Air For Base in San Antonio, Texas. Protect Our Defenders President Nancy Parrish today released this statement in response.

“We applaud House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon for what appears to be a breakthrough in getting to the bottom of the sexual abuse scandal at Lackland Air Force Base and addressing the epidemic of sexual assault throughout our armed forces.

We wait to hear more details on the nature of the hearings. However, this is a significant step forward for our brave men and women in uniform.

The HASC spokesman told 1200 WOAI that the hearings ‘will look broadly at the role of women in the armed forces.’ The epidemic of sexual assault in the military does discriminate based on gender – it is critical that hearings include all victims of sexual assault.

We look forward to working with the House Armed Services Committee to make sure that survivors of sexual assault are part of the hearings. We would also like to thank the more than 15,000 citizens and sexual assault survivors that demanded on and Protect Our Defenders that Congress do its job and protect our service men and women and the 78 members of Congress who called on Rep. Buck McKeon to hold open hearings.

This is not just a crisis in the training commands — it’s throughout the armed forces and has been for decades. The epidemic of sexual assault in our military must be addressed systemically and this requires congressional hearings and legislation, so that Lackland does not become another Tailhook or Aberdeen.

According to the military’s own reports, there are 19,000 (10,000 male) victims a year of mostly unpunished rape and sexual assault throughout the military. Yet only 13.5% come forward out of fear of retaliation.”

EXCLUSIVE: Congress Will Probe Lackland Sex Scandal

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

The San Antonio Express-News: Comments are an insult to recruits

Contact info for the House Armed Services Committee for comment:
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