This week I pressed Congress and our nation's top military leaders to take immediate, meaningful action to end the growing crisis of sexual violence in America's armed forces.
The honorable Americans who volunteer to defend our nation know they are putting themselves in harm's way to keep us safe. But too often our military women and men have found themselves in danger not on the front lines of war, but at the hands of their fellow service members and ranking officers. These crimes harm readiness and morale, and cut at the heart of our values.
The Defense Department recently estimated that there were 26,000 sexual assaults in 2012, an increase of more than 30 percent from the previous year. Yet less than 1 percent of last year's military sexual assault cases resulted in conviction.
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz attends Budget Committee hearing with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel & Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
I voted this week to pass the fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization, which includes important reforms. It strips commanders of their authority to change or dismiss convictions and it expands legal assistance to victims.
The military must fully implement these changes and do all it can to ensure that its culture no longer tolerates sexual violence. It also must prosecute sexual abuse offenders while ensuring that victims have the protection, support and assurance of justice they deserve.
I will continue to fight to end sexual violence in the military and I look forward to hearing your ideas about how we can end this crisis. Please be sure to visit my Facebook page to join the conversation and make your voice heard.
Allyson Y. Schwartz
Member of Congress