Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement regarding testimony heard in today's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on sexual assault in the military.
"I was deeply disappointed today by the testimony of our nation's top military leaders and their opinion that commanders should retain authority over whether or not a sexual assault incident be investigated or prosecuted. We must provide accountability, which includes ensuring an independent, transparent, fair process for all reports of sexual assault, outside of the chain of command.
"I am so proud to serve our country as a Soldier, and it sickens me that there are those who willingly dishonor the sacrifice of so many, and the privilege of service, by committing these violent sexual assaults within the ranks. This is absolutely unacceptable. Leaders in the Defense Department have known about this problem for decades, have said there is zero tolerance, yet reports indicate that in 2012 alone, on average, 71 service members were sexually assaulted every day. It is our collective responsibility to bring an end to this epidemic, prosecute these offenders, and provide a safe environment for survivors of sexual assault, upholding the honor and integrity that make our military strong."
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard recently led the House introduction of the Military Justice Improvement Act (H.R. 2016), which is a bipartisan, bicameral effort to effort to restore the faith of the American people and military sexual assault survivors by removing decision-making from the chain of command, and empowering experienced trial counsel to determine whether to take a case to a special or general court-martial proceeding.