Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement after voting in the full Senate Armed Services Committee National Defense Authorization Act mark-up on the issue of sexual assault prevention in the military. Senator Donnelly voted against Chairman Levin's amendment that removed and replaced existing language sponsored by Senator Gillibrand regarding the chain of command. Chairman Levin's amendment passed the Committee, 17 to 9.
"Two weeks ago, I attended a Clothesline Project event at the AmVets in Indianapolis, where dozens of Hoosier survivors of military sexual assault "aired' their stories on t-shirts strung around the room. Hearing and reading their stories of violent assault, of a lack of justice served, or the retaliation they faced from fellow soldiers was heartbreaking.
"I have concluded that only a significant, serious change to the status quo will lead to a truly "zero tolerance' policy. Survivors of sexual assault need to regain trust in the United States Armed Forces.
"I am thankful for Chairman Levin's work on this issue, and I think his proposal is strong and moves us significantly in the right direction. It goes a long way toward dramatically improving the current system. Our military and its leaders are working hard to end this scourge against our servicemembers. However, in light of the seriousness and size of this problem, I supported Senator Gillibrand's proposal in the mark. I think this is the right way to go as we seek to enact a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault in the Armed Forces."