Washington, DC – The Rand Corporation has released a new report that found sexual assaults and harassment in a single year were associated with 10,000 service members leaving the military within 28 months. The report also noted that this likely underestimates the actual number of military separations caused by sexual assault and harassment. The report comes at a time of increased scrutiny on military sexual assault following an independent investigation at Fort Hood, sparked by the tragic murder of Vanessa Guillén and outcry from active duty servicemembers, which found that systemic failures among Army leadership at Fort Hood allowed for sexual assault and crime to go unchecked. Fourteen Army leaders were fired or suspended as a result.
The Pentagon has repeatedly misled Congress to block reform and keep an offender’s boss in charge of whether a victim receives justice. President Biden has been clear on the need to empower independent military prosecutors to address the crisis. This is the first time that a Commander-in-Chief has supported fundamental reform; with continued resistance from military leadership to address a long-standing culture of sexual assault, that support will prove vital in implementing real change.
Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United States Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement:
“If the physical and emotional health of our servicemembers and their families wasn’t enough of a priority for military leadership to take action, then maybe the dramatic impact that sexual assault has on military readiness will open their eyes. Sexual assault is literally forcing servicemembers out of the military by the thousands – that is unacceptable and the only way you solve for it is to reform the system that allows it.”
President Biden has clearly stated the need to empower independent military prosecutors to address the crisis. But, the Pentagon continues to play games with the safety of our servicemembers by stalling real reform. This is the same military leadership that has repeatedly misled Congress to keep the status quo. We are grateful that President Biden will put an end to horror stories like Ft. Hood and will stand up to the Pentagon on behalf of our troops.”
RAND Report: Odds of Leaving Military Double After Sexual Assault