First of all, I am grateful to the men and women who bravely serve our country and defend our freedoms. They have answered the call to serve and have done so with honor and courage.
That is why it is especially horrific to hear that so many of these servicemembers are victims of rape and sexual assault perpetrated by other members of the military, and that the perpetrators are far too often able to avoid punishment. Thanks to the courage of those who have stepped forward and told their stories, our country is learning about these abuses and beginning to support reforms.
Sexual violence in the U.S. military is a crisis, and assaults continue to persist at an alarming rate. As you know, the Department of Defense (DOD) does not currently have a military sex offender registry. Instead, perpetrators convicted of any sexual offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) must register with public state-based registries. Individuals who fail to comply with registration requirements are subject to criminal prosecution under both state and UCMJ laws.
That said, we need wholesale changes to the handling of sexual assault in the military. That is why I have supported multiple bills that honor and protect our servicemembers, including the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act (the STOP Act, H.R. 1593), which would establish an a oversight council for victims; the Ruth Moore Act (H.R. 671), which would improve disability for veterans with conditions related to sexual trauma; and the Military Justice Improvement Act (H.R. 2016), which takes assault trials out of the chain-of-command of the accused. However, as the DOD is currently working to implement a database which will track both existing and potential predators, my colleague Rep. Jackie Speier opted to leave this language out of the current version of the STOP Act. You can be sure I will continue to monitor its implementation and support legislation should it be necessary.
As a member of Congress whose father served in World War II, I am grateful for the courage of those on and off the battlefield, and I will continue to advocate for the well-being of our military servicemembers everywhere.