San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today after President Obama instructed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey to continue efforts to combat and prevent sexual assault in the military, and to report back a full-scale review of the progress of their reforms by December 1, 2014:
“For too long, the issue of sexual assault has stood as a scourge in our military ranks and a stain on the bravery and courage of our men and women in uniform. This challenge negatively impacts those who serve in our armed forces, undermines troop morale, and hinders unit cohesion and readiness. It remains our urgent duty and obligation to do everything in our power to respond to these crimes by enhancing sexual assault prevention, training, and victim assistance.
“President Obama is right to call for a full-scale review at the highest levels of the military and the Department of Defense – to demand accountability from commanders and to implement effective strategies to comprehensively deal with this problem. The President’s effort builds on provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act that include some important steps to address sexual assault in the military.
“Even with the President’s announcement and the actions of Congress, our work is far from finished. Congress must carefully consider additional legislative reforms to confront this issue, including the amendment offered by Congresswoman Duckworth and House Democrats to empower victims with the choice to pursue their case outside the chain of command. We must establish the environment and protections necessary to ensure all service members have the opportunity to reach their full potential, without fear for their safety. We must take clear, concrete, unflinching steps forward to end military sexual assault once and for all.”