05/24/13 The House Armed Services Subcommittee (HASC) on Military Personnel Wednesday approved a proposal authored 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 of sexual crimes are protected from punishment for reporting sexual assault. It will next be considered in the HASC full committee markup in early June.
“Eradicating military sexual assault is a pertinent issue demanding immediate action to provide protections for our servicemembers,” said Walorski. “Today’s passing vote moves this bill one step closer to becoming law, ensuring safe reporting and demanding accountability within the Armed Forces.”
If adopted by the HASC full committee, Walorski provisions will be included in the House version of the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). According to a recent Pentagon report, there were an estimated 26,000 victims of sexual violence in the military during FY2012, a startling 37% increase from FY2011. The Department of Defense also found victims often do not come forward due to fear or anticipated retaliation that may affect their careers. Extending whistleblower protections would address this issue and provide much-needed protections for military sexual assault victims, establishing safeguards to encourage reporting and eliminate future incidents.