Sending Office: Honorable Ann M. Kuster
Sent By:
Kevin.Diamond@mail.house.gov

        Request for Signature(s)

Curb Military Sexual Assault in the FY2019 NDAA Deadline COB 7/12 Thursday

 

Current signers: Mia Love, Jackie Speier, Debbie Dingell

Dear Colleagues,

Please join us in sending a letter to the chair and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees that urges them to retain NDAA provisions that redress collateral misconduct, which the Department of Defense’s own policy has long identified
as “one of the most significant barriers to the reporting of a sexual assault.”

Immediately before, during, and after a sexual assault, survivors may violate military rules. These offenses are typically minor, however, survivors fear punishments that can range from black marks on their military records to being discharged from the military. 

Unfortunately, none of the Armed Services systematically track collateral misconduct. Consequently, the Department and Congress are in the dark regarding the full impact on readiness and the well-being of our troops of collateral misconduct in the military.
Organizations such as the RAND Corporation and DoD’s Inspector General have attempted to ascertain the scope of the issue; some of the shortfalls in their studies are illustrative of the need for the provisions found in both versions of the NDAA.

For example, in the 2016 NDAA, Congress requested the IG to review the records of military members who were discharged after reporting that they were sexually assaulted. The IG reported that 22 percent of the records couldn’t be examined at all, because
vital documents were missing in their entirety.

To resolve these issues, a bipartisan effort in both the House and the Senate included measures that would require the Armed Services to track information about collateral misconduct, report that information to Congress annually, and authorize the first-ever
study by an independent investigative body, the Defense Advisory Committee on Investigation, Prosecution, and Defense of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces (DAC-IPAD).  Together, these provisions would improve data collection at the Department, increase transparency,
and finally provide Congress a clearer picture of this persistent issue.

For more information or to sign on please contact Kevin Diamond with Rep. Annie Kuster’s office at
kevin.diamond@mail.house.gov, or at 5-5206 by COB Thursday, July 12th.

Sincerely,

 

Ann McLane Kuster                           Mia Love

 

Jackie Speier                                       Debbie Dingell

 

July XX, 2018

 

The Honorable John McCain                                      The Honorable Mac Thornberry          

Chairman                                                                    Chairman                                           

Committee on Armed Services                                   Committee on Armed Services                                

U.S. Senate                                                                 U.S. House of Representatives                                  

228 Russell Senate Building                                       2216 Rayburn House Office Building                       

Washington, DC  20510                                             Washington, DC  20515                                              

          

The Honorable Jack Reed                                           The Honorable Adam Smith                                       

Ranking Member                                                        Ranking Member

Committee on Armed Services                                   Committee on Armed Services                                  

U.S. Senate                                                                 U.S. House of Representatives                                   

228 Russell Senate Building                                       2216 Rayburn House Office Building                       

Washington, DC  20510                                             Washington, DC  20515                                            

 

RE: Support for provisions that require improved data collection and independent study of collateral misconduct in the Senate and House versions of the NDAA.

 

Dear Chairmen McCain and Thornberry, and Ranking Members Reed and Smith:

As you prepare to finalize the conference agreement on H.R. 5515, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, we would like to bring to your attention several measures that aim to address military sexual assault. These provisions target
a persistent concern for the effective response to military sexual assault known as collateral misconduct. The Department of Defense’s own policy identifies collateral misconduct as “one of the most significant barriers to the reporting of a sexual assault.”[1]

Preceding, during, and in the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault, survivors may commit violations of military rules. These transgressions typically include: breaking liberty policy by returning late or entering an area of town that is off limits; fraternizing
with service members of lower rank or civilian contractors; and consuming alcohol before reaching the age of 21. While these infractions should by no means be condoned, we believe that sexual assault poses a far greater threat to order and discipline in the
ranks of our military. Additionally, these violations are often aided or abetted by those who perpetrate sexual assault.

As such, the provisions found in both versions of the NDAA were formed with bipartisan support and aim to empower the Department’s efforts to curtail sexual violence. The following three proposals would lead to a greater understanding of collateral misconduct
and the scope of its impact on both sexual assault reporting and survivors:

  1. Section 546 of the House-passed NDAA for FY2019 – Section 546 would authorize the first-ever independent study of collateral misconduct by the Defense Advisory Committee on Investigation, Prosecution, and Defense of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces
    (DAC-IPAD).
  1. Sections 548 and 549 of the Senate-passed NDAA for FY2019 – Sections 548 and 549 would, for the first time, require the DoD to systematically track cases of collateral misconduct and report information to Congress, as part of the Annual
    Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, which was mandated by the NDAA for FY2011.
  1. Section 543 of the Senate-passed NDAA for FY2019 – This section would require federal agencies and departments to turnover information upon request by the chair of DAC-IPAD, thereby improving the advisory committee’s work to improve the
    Department’s responses to sexual assault in the military.

Currently, not a single branch of the Armed Services systematically tracks information about collateral misconduct, making evidence-based decisions on the subject difficult. The proposed measures would change this by capitalizing on the DoD’s existing infrastructure
for data collection, reporting, and independent study. Enabling this infrastructure to accomplish its mission should be paramount for Congress.

It is important to independently consider Section 543 of the Senate-passed NDAA as it would improve the capacity for the independent advisory committee known as the DAC-IPAD to accomplish its duties. The passage of this section is vital to obtaining key
records necessary for the DAC-IPAD to further its investigations of sexual assault in the military and to complete the review proposed by Section 546 of the House-passed NDAA.

The importance of Section 543 is best illustrated by concerns that surfaced when the Pentagon’s Inspector General (IG) reviewed one of the possible consequences of collateral misconduct.[2] Congress requested
the IG examine the cases of service members whose military careers ended after they reported being sexually assaulted. Twenty-two percent of these cases couldn’t be reviewed at all because important records were missing in their entirety.[3]
Moreover, 67 percent of cases featured missing or incomplete records.[4] In many cases, disciplinary actions stemming from collateral misconduct were addressed with non-judicial punishment.[5]
Records of these proceedings are solely kept in personnel files that are not currently accessible to the DAC-IPAD.

It is encouraging that both chambers of Congress have sought to address collateral misconduct. While the incidence and prevalence of sexual assault within the Armed Services has decreased, collateral misconduct remains a barrier to achieving the safe and
welcoming environment of camaraderie that our troops deserve. Your support in ensuring collateral misconduct receives redress will be greatly appreciated by the nation.

Sincerely,

 


[1] U.S. Department of Defense, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Memorandum for Secretaries of the Military Departments, et. al, “Collateral Misconduct in Sexual Assault Cases.” November
12, 2004.

[2] U.S. Department of Defense, Inspector General, “Evaluation of the Separation of Service Members Who Made a Report of Sexual Assault.” DODIG-2016-088: May 9, 2016. Accessed July 9, 2018,

http://www.dodig.mil/reports.html/Article/1119278/evaluation-of-the-separation-of-service-members-who-made-a-report-of-sexual-ass/
.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information:Armed Services, Civil Rights, HealthCare, Veterans

icon eDC logo e-Dear Colleague version 2.0
 
e-Dear Colleagues are intended for internal House use only.