The House of Representatives passed this year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) today that included a provision co-sponsored by Representative Erik Paulsen (MN-03) to strengthen assault prevention and whistleblower protections for victims of sexual assault in the military. The initiative, H.R. 1864, requires an Inspector General investigation into allegations of retaliatory actions taken against victims who have reported instances of sexual assault.
"These steps ensure that victims of sexual assault, or those with information on sexual crimes, do not face reprisal for coming forward," said Rep. Paulsen. "There is a history of inadequate investigations of sexual assaults in our military and a lack of support for victims of sexual crimes. We need to change the culture that has refused to take action to correct this situation."
Rep. Paulsen recently met with Retired U.S. Army Major General Bob Shadley -- a Wayzata resident and expert on the subject of preventing sexual assaults in the military -- to discuss ways to ensure these criminals are identified, prosecuted, and removed from the chain of command.
"I exposed sexual assault in the military in 1996 and I'm frustrated that it's still happening today," said Major General Shadley. "I am however pleased to see aggressive action being taken by both the legislative and executive branches to attack this problem. It's a force protection issue and should be treated as such. Increasing the ability and confidence of victims to come forward is essential. 99% of people serving are good people. We must hold the 1% doing harm accountable."
According to the Defense Department, 2,723 service members reported being a victim of sexual assault in 2011. It is estimated that more than 19,000 service members were victims of sexual assault in 2011 alone.
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Paulsen, a champion of small business and advocate of free enterprise, entrepreneurship, and innovation, serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, the bicameral Joint Economic Committee, and is co-chair of the Congressional Medical Technology Caucus.
For more information on Rep. Paulsen's work in Congress visit www.paulsen.house.gov.