Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the newly named Chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, announced today she will hold her first subcommittee hearing to investigate sexual assault in the military on March 13 of this year. The hearing will be Gillibrand’s first as chair of a subcommittee as a member of the United States Senate. The Gillibrand-led hearing will include victims of sexual assault and military officials to testify on the growing epidemic of sexual violence in the military, and is the first Senate hearing examining the issue in nearly a decade.
“Our best, brightest and bravest join our armed services for all the right reasons – to serve our country, protect our freedom, and keep America safe,” Senator Gillibrand said. “But too often, our service members find themselves in the fight of their lives not in combat, but in their own ranks, among their own brothers and sisters in an environment that enables sexual assault, and tangled in red tape to get the help they need. We need to do everything in our power to end the scourge of sexual violence in the military, crack down on offenders with tough, binding penalties, and stand up for victims by ensuring nothing ever stands in the way of getting the help and benefits they desperately need.”
In 2011, more than 3,000 military sexual assaults were reported, with the Department of Defense’s own estimates putting the actual number of assaults closer to 19,000. Currently, all service branches have varied policies when it comes to processing and punishing a convicted sex offender. Despite these policies, approximately 36 percent of convicted sex offenders remained in the Armed Forces in Fiscal Year 2011, according to the most recent Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military.
In December, Senator Gillibrand fought for and secured a provision to require any service member convicted of sexual assault be processed for discharge from the military as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013 that President Obama signed into law.
Senator Gillibrand is also fighting to pass the Ruth Moore Act, legislation that would secure Veterans Affairs benefits for survivors of military sexual assault.