Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) has called on House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) to hold a hearing to investigate an ongoing scandal at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, that includes charges of sexual misconduct, assault, and rape, against at least four military training instructors.
The Air Force has also temporarily or permanently removed 31 out of the 375 instructors based at Lackland for unprofessional conduct since last summer, including an unknown number for sexual misconduct. The Air Force has conceded that this case is the biggest of its kind ever at Lackland.
"What is happening at Lackland is systemic and warrants this committee's immediate attention," wrote Speier in her letter to McKeon and Smith. "The fact that these assaults were widespread and took place over many months flies in the face of the "zero tolerance' policy touted by our military leaders.
"Holding a hearing on Lackland will demonstrate the committee's commitment to this issue, allow the military to bring to the committee their concerns with this problem and efforts to fight it, and give voice to the victims," wrote Speier.
During an impassioned speech about the Lackland scandal on the floor of the House of Representatives, Speier asked, "Is this what zero tolerance means in the military?"
Speier is the author of H.R. 3435, the The Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act--the STOP Act-- which would take the reporting, oversight, investigation, and victim care of sexual assaults out of the hands of the military's normal chain of command and places jurisdiction in the newly created, autonomous Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office comprised of civilian and military experts. The STOP Act has over 120 cosponsors and is supported by veteran advocates across the country.