Ms. GABBARD. Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the Senate, we heard some great news. Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz joined Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and many others in support of the Military Justice Improvement Act.
This is a group of courageous leaders, bipartisan, taking serious action to stop the epidemic of violent sexual assaults amongst our men and women who courageously serve in our military.
Recently, the Defense Department reported that 26,000 sexual assaults had occurred in 2012 alone. Contrary to popular belief, this is not just an issue affecting female servicemembers. Over 53 percent of these assaults, over half of the 26,000, had been male victims. Unfortunately, 87 percent of these assaults went unreported.
This is a matter of basic fairness, transparency, and justice. Placing the decision to bring charges against these perpetrators of serious violent crimes into the hands of experienced professional military investigators and prosecutors outside of the chain of command will not erode a commander's ability to lead his or her troops.
We must change the status quo. These crimes have been ignored for far too long.