NEW YORK, NY — Following is a statement from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:
IAVA is alarmed by the recent video produced by a female Marine distressed over her chain of command’s decision on the resolution of her allegations. Her video underscores the need to finally pass the IAVA-backed Military Justice Improvement Act, which would remove decisions to prosecute serious crimes from a servicemember’s chain of command and give it to independent, trained prosecutors. Sadly, stories like this are common, and more often than not, servicemembers face retaliation after reporting a crime.
“We have to fight this battle on two fronts: we need to end sexual assault and sexual harassment within the military and we need to ensure justice for survivors,” said IAVA CEO Jeremy Butler. “ The video widely seen today is a stark reminder that we have failed on both accounts. IAVA calls for the swift reintroduction and passage of the Military Justice Improvement Act.”
Our most recent survey showed that 73% of IAVA members who reported their assault received some sort of retaliation. Only 31% of IAVA members who experienced sexual assault reported the crime. Of those who did not report, they listed their reasons as fear of retaliation by their peers or commander, concern about career impacts, and doubt that their commander would believe them.
This issue is not a woman-only issue, but it disproportionately affects them. If DoD and Congress value retaining women servicemembers then we must pass MJIA now, and leadership from the top down must stop giving lip service to zero-tolerance sexual assault policies and make bold changes to achieve results.
IAVA is the voice for the post-9/11 veteran generation. With over 400,000 veterans and allies nationwide, IAVA is the leader in non-partisan veteran advocacy and public awareness. We drive historic impacts for veterans and IAVA’s programs are second to none. Any veteran or family member in need can reach out to IAVA’s Quick Reaction Force at quickreactionforce.org or 855-91RAPID (855-917-2743) to be connected promptly with a veteran care manager who will assist. IAVA’s The Vote Hub is a free tool to register to vote and find polling information. IAVA’s membership is always growing. Join the movement at iava.org/membership.