Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, expressed deep concern for the high rates of reported military sexual assault during a Defense Subcommittee hearing examining the Department of the Navy Fiscal Year 2014 budget request. Disturbing data about the rates of abuse was recently revealed in the Department of Defense's "2011 Health Related Behaviors Survey of Active Duty Military Personnel." The Pentagon survey showed the Marine Corps had the highest percentage of abuse reported, with nearly 30 percent of females saying they had been sexually abused during service. The Subcommittee heard testimony from The Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, and General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps.
"General Amos, in your testimony you described a number of good steps you have taken to combat military sexual assault in the Marine Corps," said Senator Murray during the hearing. "You also discussed how sexual assault is entirely incompatible with the culture of the Marine Corps. But I was very concerned by a recent USA TODAY article which discussed the results of the Pentagon health survey. According to that report, of all the services, the Marine Corps has the highest percentage of female servicemembers reporting they were sexually assaulted. Do you have any thoughts on why this might be?"
Senator Murray also questioned Secretary Mabus about the new Department of Defense Instruction on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program Procedures, released by Defense Secretary Hagel on March 28, 2013. "I have been asked if I'm concerned about sexual assault," said Secretary Mabus during the hearing. "And my reply has been, "That is not an accurate description and I don't think it applies to either General Amos or Admiral Greenert.' I'm angry about it. This is an attack on our sailors and our Marines. And it's an attack from the inside. It's something we simply have to fix. If someone was walking around taking shots at random at our sailors and our Marines, we would fix it. And this is no less of an attack on the integrity and the structure of our force."
Senator Murray's exchange with Secretary Mabus and General Amos can be viewed here. (starting at 59:43)
During a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Tuesday, Chairman Murray announced she soon will be introducing legislation to help prevent military sexual assault and protect those affected.