released this week its FY 2016 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the
Military. The following day, the House Armed Services Committee's
(HASC's) Military Personnel Subcommittee held a hearing on “Sexual
Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies.”
reported that while the prevalence of sexual assault in the military
decreased last year, it is still at an unacceptably high rate of 14,900
reported assaults. Twelve percent of service academy students report
being sexually assaulted, and approximately 50 percent report being
sexually harassed during their time at the academies.
Our parent organization, the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) was
present for DoD press briefings and the HASC hearing. A consistent theme
emerged: DoD must change the culture in the military to one of dignity
and respect if it is to combat sexual harassment and assault. During the
HASC hearing, Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) stated it is clear military
culture has yet to fully embrace gender diversity. Rep. Martha McSally
(R-Ariz.), an alumna of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs,
Colo., compared service academy culture to Lord of the Flies, the novel by William Golding.
stated it is “advancing a military culture where sexist behaviors,
sexual harassment, and sexual assault are not tolerated, condoned, or
ignored.” Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) noted “whoever is in leadership
sets the tone” and questioned how to make military leaders set the right
command climate to prevent sexual assault and harassment.
will be seeking to address this issue through legislation and