Inspiration Sunday – Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Advocate For Military Rape Victims

With Veteran's Day approaching, as I write my Inspiration Sunday piece, I think immediately of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and her efforts to put an end to rape in the military.

Official Portrait

When I think about the men and women who fight for our freedom and security at such great risk and personal sacrifice,  it is a complete an utter outrage that our military members are being subjected to sexual assault and that there are cases where they feel that they cannot report that assault because the person violating them is a superior officer.

Sen. Gillibrand is the primary sponsor of legislation in the United States Senate to overhaul the military’s sexual assault reporting and response policies. The senator has held extensive hearings on this issue.  Service members reported feeling re-violated by the military justice system when they reported that they had been raped.  Some of the testimony moved the Senator and her colleagues to tears.

Sen. Gillibrand reports that studies have shown that 26,000 troops were sexually assaulted in 2012, but only 3,400 attacks were reported and only 306 assaults were prosecuted.

That is really an unacceptably low reporting rate and an intolerable prosecution rate.  If people cannot report the assaults, they cannot be stopped, if they are not prosecuted, the perpetrators will continue with their abuse.

Politico reports that "Gillibrand’s amendment to remove the chain of command from prosecuting major crimes like sexual assault is too controversial to avoid a filibuster instead of a 51-vote simple majority."

Senator Lindsey Graham, a republican from South Carolina is determined to block this bill with a filibuster which will then require that 60 senators support Gillibrand's amendment for it to pass.

Graham is fixated with preserving the chain of the command and asserts that "You can’t fix any problem in the military where you exclude the commander.

This literally makes no sense when you look at the problem as it stands now; the chain of command appears to be clearly in the way of justice for rape victims in the military.

As the Senator states, "(a) system where fewer than 1 out of 10 reported perpetrators are held accountable for their alleged crimes is a system that is broken. We simply must do better."

Sen. Carl Levin, who is the chair of the Senate Arm Services Committee is opposed to Sen. Gillibrand's amendment. Interestingly, she has the support of outspoken and controversial republicans Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz.  

We must do better for our military service men and women.   Senator Gillibrand needs 60 votes for her amendment to pass, please contact your U.S. Senator and let him or her know that you'd like Sen. Gillibrand's amendment passed. It's an amendment to the defense budget known as the "National Defense Authorization Act"  which is coming up for a vote soon perhaps as soon as November 13, 2013.

Ask your senator to support S.967 the Military Justice Improvement Act of 2013

Here is a list of senators who have not signed on to the legislation this list includes twitter account information.

Calls and letters are very important tools for influencing your elected leaders, you can find out who represents you and call from this website.

For those in the military, a website has been established where you can seek support. It's operated by RAINN and it's dedicate to the special needs of those in the military.

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