Senate Faces Historic Vote on Handling Military Sexually Assault Epidemic Outside Chain of Command
(FEDERALJACK) The Senate is poised to vote soon to make sweeping changes in the way the military handles complaints of sexual assault. Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has said 46 senators — 38 Democrats and eight Republicans — support her proposal to remove the power to decide whether to try sexual assault cases from the military chain of command and put it in the hands of an independent military prosecutor. Last week, the Pentagon revealed that sexual assault in the military increased by 46 percent in the past fiscal year. In total, more than 3,500 sexual assaults were reported from last October through June, compared to roughly 2,400 over the same period the previous year. Pentagon officials claim the spike shows more victims are coming forward. But sexual assaults are still dramatically underreported in military ranks; a recent survey estimated 26,000 people were sexually assaulted in 2011 alone. Amy Ziering, producer of the Oscar-nominated film, “The Invisible War,” which interviews veterans from multiple branches of the U.S. military about their experience of being assaulted, speaks on the subject.