The mission of our military is to protect the American way of life and our freedoms, yet this very mission is compromised by leadership that allows, perpetrates and condones sexual assault on the very members of our military.
The Department of Defense estimates that over 19,000 such incidents occurred in 2010 alone but that only 13.5% of sexual assaults are ever reported. Why? Because victims are often blamed, fear career ending retaliation, and are required to report their assault by fellow soldiers to a superior, not law enforcement or medical personnel.
Now, a new criminal scandal at Lackland Air Force Base has put one of America's most disgraceful secrets back in the headlines. At least 42 female trainees at Lackland say they were raped or sexually assaulted by their instructors. Many did not come forward for years out of fear of retaliation from their superiors.
Gen. Rice, commander of the Air Education and Training Command at Lackland says that the misconduct is not limited to just Lackland and has ordered an investigation into "systemic issues" in the Air Force. The DOD reports that 1 in 4 young women who join the service will be raped or sexually assaulted and 1% of men. The VA estimates over half a million vets have experienced military sexual trauma.
The military has proven that it is unable or unwilling to Protect Our Defenders. Congress should open an investigation immediately and then put an end to the "systemic issues" of military rape and sexual assault by legislating fundamental reform.
Our government can and must do more.