U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee, welcomes the announcement by the Department of Defense that the military will institute more consistent and improved sexual assault prevention and response instruction during pre-command training. Senator Collins also praised Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for tasking all the services with assessing all initial military training to ensure a safe and secure work environment in the wake of the sexual assault scandal at Lackland Air Force Base.
"The Secretary of Defense continues to place significant emphasis on sexual assault prevention and response efforts. But as is clear from the evidence that shows that sexual assaults remain one of the most insidious crimes committed against our women -and men-- in uniform, more must be done to prevent sexual assaults from occurring in the first place, to educate commanders and advocates on the correct response when a sexual assault is alleged, and to hold offenders to account for their crimes," said Senator Collins. "Right now there are dozens, if not hundreds, of survivors who are either quietly suffering from an attack or seeking to move the military justice system to hold an offender to account. We cannot rest until the military's policy of zero tolerance is matched by a true culture of zero tolerance."
Earlier this year, Senator Collins received the 2012 Lauterbach Truth and Justice Award from the Servicewomen's Action Network. She is a leader in Congress on issues of military sexual assault prevention. Senator Collins worked to successfully include provisions in the Fiscal Year 2012 defense authorization bill requiring the military departments to improve and expand sexual assault prevention and response training, and to make it more consistent. In addition, as a result of Senator Collins' actions, survivors of sexual assaults now possess the right of privileged communications with their victim advocates and are eligible for expedited transfer away from the geographic location of their attacker.