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DoD strives to eliminate sexual assault

By | AFPS | March 10, 2014

WASHINGTON – Eliminating sexual assault in the U.S. military is one of the Department of Defense’s highest priorities. The department welcomes President Barack Obama’s continued leadership on this issue and shares his commitment to doing what it takes to solve this problem, said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in a statement issued Dec. 20.

Hagel’s statement reads as follows:

“Eliminating sexual assault in the military is one of the DoD’s highest priorities. We welcome President Obama’s continued leadership on this issue, and we share his commitment to doing whatever it takes to solve this problem.

“All of us at DoD have a responsibility for the health and well-being of our people, and, as I have made clear to DoD’s senior leaders, our success d e p e n d s on a dynamic and responsive approach to all issues that affect our men and women, particularly sexual assault. We must continually strive to improve our prevention and response programs.

Hagel said DoD will continue to build upon the progress made during the past year.

“In April, I called on Congress to amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and I’m pleased that this and other measures we recommended have been included in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA),” he said. “They provide much-needed authorities that will help strengthen our sexual assault prevention and response efforts, and we are committed to implementing them effectively and without delay.”

These measures will complement other initiatives he has directed throughout this year, Hagel said, including strengthening commander accountability, command climate, victim advocacy and safety, as well as enhancing victim support and pretrial investigations, strengthening oversight and making prevention and response efforts more consistent across the military services.

Many of these directives are included in the NDAA, Hagel said, adding that for months, he has been meeting weekly with the department’s senior leadership to personally review prevention and response efforts, as well as progress, and to ensure all initiatives are being implemented to the fullest extent.

“I will continue these weekly meetings,” Hagel said. “As I and all the leaders of this institution have said, sexual assault is a stain on the honor of millions of military men and women, a threat to the discipline and the cohesion of our force, and we will not allow this to stand.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey also issued a statement regarding the progress DoD is making on eliminating sexual harassment and assault and improving response.

“The Joint Chiefs began working on the issue of sexual harassment and on the crime of sexual assault two years ago, and we’ve been making steady progress,” Dempsey said.
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