6/07/13 The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) approved its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014, including a provision by Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) extending whistleblower protections to victims of military sexual assault. The proposal is based on bipartisan legislation introduced by Walorski and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-46) to strengthen existing military whistleblower protection laws and clarify that victims are protected from punishment for reporting sexual assault.
“These provisions are designed to get to the root of the problem, creating a safe reporting environment for military sexual assault victims and demanding accountability from military leaders,” said Walorski, a freshman member of the House Armed Services Committee. “Our goal is to secure a system for safe reporting to encourage victims to come forward and seek justice without fear of reprisal. I am pleased to see this bipartisan measure included in the NDAA, moving it one step closer to becoming law.”
The Walorski provision requires an Inspector General investigation into allegations of retaliatory personnel actions taken against victims who have reported alleged instances of rape, sexual assault, or other forms of sexual misconduct in the military.
A newly released Pentagon report estimated nearly 26,000 servicemembers were sexually assaulted last year, with just 3,374 cases reported. The Department of Defense finds an alarming rate of victims do not come forward due to fear of retaliation.
The bill continues to gain bipartisan support, with 71 co-sponsors currently listed. Earlier this week, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced companion legislation.