Our military academies are supposedly educating our best and brightest young leaders. Honor and duty are paramount. A troubling report- 2010-2011 Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies- was released yesterday by the Department of Defense. The academies saw an overall increase in the number of sexual assault reports made to authorities in APY 2010-2011. During the evaluation period, a total of 65 reports of sexual assault involved cadets and midshipmen compared to a total of 41 reports in the prior APY.
“One sexual assault is one too many,” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in an DOD press release issued yesterday. “Whether it’s in our academies or our ranks, at sea or ashore, there’s no place for this unacceptable behavior.
Panetta didn’t mince words: “This is a leadership issue, first and foremost, so I also expect us to lead with integrity and with energy to eliminate sexual assault and harassment from our culture. I’m confident the steps we are taking are the right ones, but we must continue to improve.”
DOD is developed two new policies to ensure victims obtain needed support and services and make sure records of these assaults don’t disappear in the military bureaucracy.
Under a new policy on expedited transfers, service members who have been the victim of sexual assault and have filed an Unrestricted Report now have the option to request an expedited transfer from their unit and/or installation. The service member must receive a response to the transfer request from the unit commander within 72 hours, and can request a review of any denied request by a General/Flag Officer (or SES equivalent) in the chain of command and receive that response within the next 72 hours.
The second new policy standardizes the retention periods for sexual assault records across the military services. In unrestricted cases, specified documents will be retained for 50 years and in restricted cases, for five years, to ensure victims have extended access to documents related to the sexual assault.
“We know that the military academies are similar to college campuses around the country in that sexual harassment and assault are challenges that all faculty, staff and students need to work to prevent,” said Maj. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog, director, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. “However, when it does occur, we owe it to those who have been victimized, and to every cadet and midshipman, to do everything possible to provide needed support and to hold those who commit sexual assault appropriately accountable.”
The complete report is available at http://www.sapr.mil.