After a months-long review of the qualifications and records of more than 20,000 soldiers, US Army officials recently removed 588 from sensitive jobs. These include military sexual assault counselors who themselves had committed infractions like sexual assault.
The move was prompted by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s order last year that all of America’s military branches review the records and qualifications of people holding recruiting and sex assault response and prevention jobs – a massive effort to more proactively address the rising number of sexual assault reports by and against women and men serving in our Armed Forces. Nearly 600 were found to be unsuitable for their posts, having committed offenses like sexual assault, child abuse or drunken driving.
A statement released by Army officials noted that of the 588 soldiers removed from their posts, 79 will leave the service and that others could face further actions from their commands. It’s unclear whether those 79 will leave the service voluntarily. The US Navy reviewed some 11,000 employees and found five of them unqualified for their jobs. The Air Force removed two of the 2,500 sexual assault victim advocates and assault response coordinators reviewed. And media reports suggest that the Marine Corps found none of its staff unsuitable.
The vast differences in the results of reviews by the different Armed Services branches likely is due to the fact that only the army went far beyond Sec. Hagel’s requirement that services review recruiting and sex assault response and prevention staffs. Army officials also reviewed other staff members in “positions of trust” including drill sergeants and training school instructors.
“We will continue working to better ensure we select the very best people for these posts, and that the chain of command knows what is expected of them, and how important this work is to the Army,” Col. David Patterson, an Army spokesman, said in a statement.
News of the review results comes just as preliminary figures showing a 60-percent increase in the number of reported sexual assaults in the military are being discussed by America’s military and political leaders. Defense officials say the rise suggests victims are becoming more willing to come forward thanks in part to coverage of a series of high-profile scandals forcing the military to take more aggressive and proactive action.
Make no mistake – if you are a member of our nation’s Armed Services and are the victim of a sexual assault committed by another service member, you’ve got a tough fight ahead of you. An attorney experienced in dealing with military-involved cases can help.
Photo by Leonard Zhukovsky