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This has been an eventful year for Protect Our Defenders, with important progress made as we work to protect the veterans and active duty members who are victims of unpunished rape, sexual assault or harassment within our military.
Protect Our Defenders Foundation means so much to me and the many survivors and family members of survivors across the world. It's become a place to gather, build community, speak out, support one another and build a movement to fix the broken military justice system.
When we held our first press conference a little more than a year ago, media attention on the tragic issue of military rape was difficult to come by. Now, there are news articles every week.
Protect Our Defenders and our Advocacy Board Members continue to play a critical role in raising awareness by educating the media and the public. In many respects, we have become a critical intersection between the survivor community and the media.
While we've made tremendous progress this year, our work has really just begun.
With your help on Causes we organized survivors and went to Washington, DC to deliver a petition with 10,000 signatures demanding Congress hold an open hearing and investigation into sex abuse, criminal behavior and misconduct at Lackland Air Force Base -- home of the largest sex abuse scandal in military history.
After weeks of pressure from POD, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon finally agreed and scheduled upcoming hearings on the scandal. Our efforts led to international press attention that continues to this day.
When the Air Force's report about Lackland came out late last month, the press turned to POD for analysis. We were featured in all the major articles that came out about the report, including Bloomberg News, Reuters, Stars and Stripes and the AP.
We also worked closely with the National Journal on their comprehensive cover story on the epidemic of military sexual assaults, "The Enemy Within." Our Advocacy Board Members' stories were shared throughout the article.
We continue to support the work of our Advocacy Board Members – helping them to participate in advocacy and healing projects that have received local media coverage. Survivors have been featured in stories across the country from Jacksonville to St. Louis to San Francisco.
I am proud of our team. This has been an incredible year of awareness, but there is much more work to be done: Next year needs to be a year of progress.
Will you help us continue our fight against sexual assault in the military by making a tax-deductible donation today to Protect Our Defenders Foundation?
Our efforts were nationally recognized: POD was presented with YouTube's annual DoGooder Award for the best use of video for the social good, and we were also recognized by Salsa Labs, an online organization platform that helps nonprofits and political campaigns. In the past year, more than 21,000 new supporters have joined the POD network.
Our advocacy will continue into the New Year, as we work with members of Congress and the Senate and House Armed Services Committees staff to address a number of issues dealing with military sexual trauma. And we stand with Congresswoman Jackie Speier to pass the STOP Act, landmark legislation that will protect our defenders by fundamentally changing the way sexual assault is handled by our military
And that's not all: this year we began a Peer-to-Peer Support Program, and a Survivors Support Network. Our goal is to expand both programs and to develop a national pro bono legal network to assist veterans and active duty members who find themselves victim of unpunished rape, assault or harassment and are retaliated against for reporting the crime.
But we can't do this alone. Will you chip in to help us continue our work in 2013?
Thanks for your continued support,
President, Protect Our Defenders