• 70°

Military assaults must end

I’m appalled by stories of sexual assault I hear from our service members. One woman was attacked by a fellow Marine in her barracks. No one heard her cries for help. The next day, she reported the assault to her superiors.
The military launched an investigation that lasted months. The woman was alienated by her peers, who called her derogatory names. Her sergeant major told her the assault was her fault, that she must have encouraged the attacker. The investigation went nowhere. Nobody was held accountable.
Unfortunately, sexual assault cases are not isolated incidents. The Department of Defense recently released a report estimating that more than 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted in 2012. And equally alarming — just 13 percent of incidents that occurred in 2012 were reported.
I will not stand for sexual assault in our military. Service members risk their lives around the world as they engage our enemies on the battlefield; they should not have to worry about their personal safety on our bases at home and around the world.
Women who have served on military bases in Afghanistan, a dry, desert climate, told me they limit their water intake during the day to avoid using the latrines at night, when they face an increased risk of being assaulted.
When our servicemembers are at war, facing threats from all directions, I want them focused on serving our country and getting the job done safely. They have too much on their plates to wake up wondering, “Will today be the day I become a victim of sexual assault?”
Unfortunately, the staggering number of military assaults each year justifies those fears. Even worse is that, according to the Department of Defense, half of all sexually assaulted servicemembers fear retaliation if they report the crime. They fear the military won’t maintain their confidentiality or that the military justice system will fail them.
Sexual assault victims in the military also fear losing opportunities for career advancement that they’ve earned through years of hard work. This is unacceptable. The men and women of our armed forces deserve better.
At a high-level White House meeting last week, I joined colleagues from both parties to discuss concrete steps we can take to protect victims and address the epidemic of sexual assault in our military. Last year’s Defense Authorization Act included provisions to do just this. That law established independent review boards to examine how the military handles sexual assault; created a special victims unit; ensured convicted offenders are kicked out of the military; and improved the military’s data collection for sexual assaults.
But talk is not enough when it comes to fixing this crisis. During his confirmation process, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel assured me he would fully implement these directives, and last week I requested he report to Congress immediately on his progress.
There are some who say this problem can’t be fixed. They chalk the problem up to the culture in our military. But I won’t accept that for our men and women in uniform. Our servicemembers have put their lives on the line to protect us, and we simply cannot wait another day to step up to protect them.

Democrat Kay Hagan is the junior senator from North Carolina.
You can follow her on Twitter @SenatorHagan or at www.facebook.com/senatorhagan.

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

Light installation could delay Bell Tower Green opening, but formal event still set for Sept. 10

Kannapolis

Kannapolis restroom listed among top 10 in the country, vying for top spot

Business

Mixed-use development planned near Atrium Health Ballpark

Local

Little League softball: Rowan plays for regional championship, qualifies for World Series

Nation/World

CDC changes course on indoor masks in some parts of the US

Nation/World

Racism of rioters takes center stage in Jan. 6 hearing

News

State briefs: Woman accused of taking baby to break-in

Nation/World

Man pleads guilty to 4 Asian spa killings, sentenced to life

Coronavirus

Rowan health director says COVID-19 deaths preventable as county reports No. 315

Local

Rowan County Planning Board denies Reaper’s Realm rezoning request after opposition from neighbors

College

Catawba College’s Newman Park renovations grow more extensive

Local

David Freeze begins cross-country cycling journey in San Diego

Local

Community remembrance events to focus on lynchings of the past, need for justice today

Local

August issue of Salisbury the Magazine is now available

Local

After 10 days, three hospitals, one diagnosis, Kassidy Sechler will return home

News

COVID-19 surging as North Carolina set to ease restrictions

Crime

Blotter: Police ask for help finding robbery suspect

Local

Three Rivers Land Trust finalizes deal to double size of nature preserve in Spencer

Local

Spin Doctors announced as headlining band for 2021 Cheerwine Festival

Ask Us

Ask Us: Readers ask about Hoffner murder case, ‘Fame’ location

Local

Cornhole tournament at New Sarum Brewery brings out Panthers fans, raises money for charity

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged for breaking and entering, burglary tools

Nation/World

Senators race to overcome final snags in infrastructure deal

Crime

Child killed in Monroe drive-by shooting; 1 arrested