Kirsten Gillibrand United States Senator for New York

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Gillibrand Statement on President Obama’s Commitment to End Military Sexual Assaults

August 7, 2013

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued the following statement today after President Obama spoke about ending military sexual assaults during his remarks to U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton:

“I could not agree more with President Obama’s assessment that sexual assaults in the military undermines our entire military. It is up to Congress to seize the opportunity and act this year on the fundamental reform the brave survivors deserve. The problem of sexual assault in the military is not new, and neither are the pledges of ‘zero tolerance’ from the highest level commanders which date all the way back to then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney in 1992. It is time to listen to the survivors and reform the military justice system removing the clear bias and inherent conflicts of interest posed by the military chain of command's current sole decision-making power. Only then will the system be worthy of their sacrifice and service.”

NOTE: According to the 2012 SAPRO Report, 25 percent of women and 27 percent of men who received unwanted sexual contact indicated the offender was someone in their military chain of command.

According to DOD, 50 percent of female victims stated they did not report the crime because they believed that nothing would be done with their report. Even the current top military leadership admits the current system “has failed” – and as Commandant of the Marine Corps James Amos admitted earlier this year, “why don’t female victims come forward? Because they don't trust us, they don’t trust the chain of command, they don’t trust the leadership.”

Gillibrand’s bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act has been publicly supported by 46 Senators plus the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE), all the leading victim’s advocates groups, including but not limited to, Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), Protect Our Defenders (POD), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the National Women’s Law Center, Vietnam Veterans of America, The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), plus former Generals, former commanders, former JAG officers and survivors of sexual assault across the country.