Today, on the one year anniversary of Lance Corporal Harry Lew's death from hazing, the chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) joined Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) in sending a letter to the House Armed Services Committee calling for action to prevent hazing. As the Committee drafts the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, the chairs call for the legislation to make hazing a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, implement a GAO study on each service's hazing training and prevention policies and develop of a national hazing database to track hazing incidents and report annually to Congress. Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), CAPAC Chair, released the following statement:
"Lance Corporal Harry Lew was my nephew. To me, his memory is not just a statistic of horrific mistreatment; he will forever be a vibrant and kind-hearted young man who wanted nothing more than to protect our country. It is shocking to me to see our military repay his enthusiasm for service by brushing his hazing under the rug, but that is exactly what has happened.
"Harry's death, and the deaths of numerous others like Private Danny Chen, Private Hamson Daniels McPherson, Jr., and Army Specialist Brushaun Anderson, has made it painfully clear that the hazing prevention policies currently in place are not effective. What's worse, the fact that there has yet to be a single perpetrator to face significant punishment for the harm they caused demonstrates that a culture of acceptance permeates our armed services when it comes to hazing.
"I have spent the past year fighting to change that culture, and to bring accountability to our armed services for hazing within their ranks. Through letters, an open forum and Congressional hearings on hazing, I have made it clear that the military must act before more lives are lost. Today, on the anniversary of Harry's passing, I am calling again for action. We need to make hazing a crime in the military justice system so there will be a real deterrent. We need an objective and impartial GAO study on each of the service's hazing training and prevention policies so we can known the true extent of the problem. And we need to develop a national hazing database to track incidents and have the military report annually to Congress -- only then will we know if progress is being made. I am also asking the House Armed Services Committee, which has been very responsive, to provide the oversight needed to ensure these changes take place. It's time the military commits to protecting our troops with the same vigor that our troops commit to protecting the American people."