California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier, who sponsored the bill, told TheDC that it would take “the reporting, oversight, investigation, and victim care of sexual assaults out of the hands of the normal chain of command,” and put the jurisdiction “in the hands of an autonomous office comprised of civilian and military experts.”
New York Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko is a co-sponsor of the measure. He told TheDC about a recent meeting he held with more than a dozen advocates for female veterans.
“What I heard was distressing and emotional,” Tonko said. “Too many cases of assault and abuse go unreported, and those that are reported often receive an inadequate response. That kind of treatment is unacceptable in or out of the military, but it’s particularly troubling when we recognize that these are individuals who have volunteered to put themselves in harm’s way to protect their fellow Americans.”
But for now, the military is confronting sexual assault in uniform on its own, and leaving veterans like Bushnell to struggle with their transitions home.
“I’m hoping I can get well enough to go back to school, or work,” she said. “My school-age sons live in Texas, and I miss them dearly. I’m hoping we can be reunited soon.”
Speier, meanwhile, insisted that “the public needs to become aware of this epidemic and pressure Congress and the Department of Defense to do what is right.”
“I won’t stop fighting until we fix this problem,” she vowed.
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