Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

May 24, 2013

Forum: Time to act now on military sexual assaults

America is facing an epidemic of sexual assaults in our military. The facts are truly frightening. The Department of Defense estimated there were 26,000 sexual assaults in 2012 alone. Sadly, only 3,400 were actually reported. That means 87 percent of these terrible crimes went unreported.

In fact, in recent weeks reports have surfaced that two military commanders responsible for addressing this problem have actually been charged with sexual assault themselves. Like most people in northern Michigan, I believe this is a travesty that needs be addressed now.

I’ve been a doctor in northern Michigan for nearly 30 years. As a physician, I know how intensely upsetting these terrible crimes can be. It’s often very difficult for victims to feel safe when reporting these tragic incidents. Something needs to be done now. That’s why I am working in a bipartisan way with senators like Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, to offer a new plan in Congress that reforms the way the military handles sexual assault cases and makes sure victims don’t have to fear reporting the crime.

Currently, victims of sexual assault in the military report an incident to their commanding officer. This poses a difficult challenge for many victims, as it can be extremely hard to share such intensely personal and emotionally upsetting details with a direct superior the victim has to work with each day. Imagine if you had to report the details of such a traumatic event to your boss at work, rather than to a prosecutor or law enforcement officer.

Clearly, what’s been tried in the military hasn’t been working. A new approach is needed. That’s just what our plan does. If passed, sexual assault victims will be able to report abuse directly to an experienced military attorney outside the victim’s chain of command. This common-sense bill will ensure our service members are not denied the justice and the protections available to civilian victims of sexual assault.

Text Only

Opinion Poll
AP Video
Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion