Statement of Angela Canterbury, Director of Public Policy, Project On Government Oversight:
There’s a crisis in our military—the rampant cases of sexual assault, harassment and abuse that go unreported each year. Many victims know that if they speak out, they may face more harassment and retaliation from superiors and perpetrators.
Legislation introduced Thursday by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and co-sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) would strengthen military whistleblower protections and shield victims of sexual assault from reprisals. These much needed protections are long overdue.
Victims of sexual assault should never feel that they can’t report their attacks because of fear of reprisal. They deserve our support and the promise that all crimes will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
But it’s not just victims of sexual assault who need protection from reprisals. As Sen. Warner has pointed out, at least one of the aviators who spoke out last year about problems with the F-22 fighter jet has said he faced retaliation for going public with his concerns. We need to stand by all members of the military who have the courage to report wrongdoing.
The best-practice protections offered in the Military Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2013 will help fix a broken system that is a disgrace and a dishonor to those who serve. The status quo provides no safety or justice for military victims of sexual assault and whistleblowers, and no accountability for wrongdoers. When these proposed policies become law, our women and men in uniform will have finally have protections they need and deserve.