Military sexual assault resolution approved

The American Legion’s governing body today approved a resolution urging the U.S. Armed Forces to enforce a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual assault committed by and against members of the U.S. military. The resolution comes during a week in which the Air Force’s chief of sexual assault prevention was arrested and charged with sexual battery – and the Pentagon reported that sexual assaults in the military are occurring at a rate of more than 70 per day.

"Even before these two incidents, The American Legion already had taken an active role in raising awareness about the issue of military sexual trauma," American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz said. "Nearly a year ago, Legion representatives testified before a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee that the Department of Veterans Affairs should adjudicate cases of military sexual trauma in the same manner as veterans suffering from combat trauma. The Legion has called for every VA facility to have a military sexual trauma coordinator on staff.

"But treatment is only half of the equation. The other half is prevention of the assault, and one way to prevent a crime is to make the punishment severe enough to deter that crime from being committed. The Department of Defense needs to send a message throughout its ranks that those who commit this crime will be dealt with severely."

Convening authorities in court-martial proceedings have the power to dismiss or set aside finding of guilty, as well as the power to reduce the degree of punishment issued by a judge or panel. Resolution 9, passed by the Legion’s National Executive Committee in Indianapolis, urges Congress to pass legislation prohibiting convening authorities from dismissing or setting aside a finding of guilty – or reducing a finding of guilty to a lesser offense – in cases of sexual assault. The Legion also urges the Defense secretary to direct the Joint Chiefs of Staff to "take necessary measures to dismantle any military culture that condones, tolerates or otherwise allows sexual assault among servicemembers as an acceptable form of behavior."

Passage of the resolution came within days of Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski – head of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention and response branch – was arrested and charged with sexual battery. He was relieved from his position.

The Pentagon’s report also showed that the number of anonymous claims of sexual assault in the military grew from 19,000 in fiscal 2011 to 26,000 in 2012.

"The men and women wearing this nation’s uniform are among the best and brightest our country has to offer," Koutz said. "But in those instances when a crime of this nature is committed by one servicemember against another, the uniform of the perpetrator is disgraced and justice must be served. There can be no gray areas. If you sexually assault a fellow servicemember, you will receive the punishment you deserve."

On Tuesday, DoD Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a revised sexual assault and prevention plan, as well as the implementation of measures specifically addressing accountability, command climate and victim advocacy.

"I applaud Secretary Hagel for responding quickly to this situation," Koutz said. "The safety and welfare of our men and women in uniform need to be the highest priority, and this new policy is a positive step in that direction."




  1. I think many of you need to go to the DoD website and read the final report for 2012 on Sexualt Assault. Only then with a little more enlightening can you come to clear decisions.
  2. m. arnold, your comment is offensive to male survivors. Do not forget that, in this last report, approximately 14K men were sexually assaulted compared to 12K women. By the raw numbers, more men are sexually assaulted than women. Rape is not limited to women. Your comment serves to remind every male survivor of why they should not report: because they will not be taken seriously. We currently have zero resources for male survivors of military sexual trauma. That is a tragedy no one has addressed. Very rarely do you see male survivors in the media. The Legion has never addressed this issue.
  3. I was one of the first Volunteers who obtained specialized three months training at the then newly formed United States Military Race Relations Institute which was aimed at solving racism and sexist in the Armed Forces. This training done by very competent professional scholars led about 850 Race Relations Officers and NCO's of all the branches to work at ridding the Armed Forces of the evils affecting that services, especially the fraggings in Vietnam and the insurrections and mutinies that were ongoing in the sixties and seventies. It took us ten years, but by implementing the training strategies and actions to stop racism and sexism started to work and as a result, we started to see many minority officers in the ranks, especially women officers. Also the rate of sexual harassment was diminishes. The program worked because we were assigned under the base or fort commanders (Colonels and Generals). We had the power to implement innovative programs and curriculum and 100% of the base personnel had to attend up to one week of training a year , and we acted as inspectors to insure compliance and the Generals backed the program by order for the Commander in Chief. When in 1984, the program began to be dismantled because of lack of leadership in the White House, things began to get worse and you are seeing the consequences in how women are being treated. The military specialty of Race Relation Officer and NCO were then taken away and the personnel had to go back to their original MOS. No longer was it required to have permanency in running this program which had been implemented under the premises of the Civil Rights Act, signed by president Johnson and others. Please share this important message with anyone, specially congressmen and women who value justice. MSG Francisco J. Zamarripa, PhD, (retired)
  4. No one who harms a fellow service member with sexual assault deserves less than a long confinement & a "Big Chicken Dinner." Period! "I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor will I tolerate those who do." Committing a rape is the worst form of thievery.
  5. Miss arnold, I have a question? My service time was 67-71 part of which was in Vietnam to where I received a Purple Heart. Sexual harassment including all you describe is covered in the Word where it says, Women have control over men's bodies and Men have control over women's bodies. Would it help to bar women from being in the military again? Pornography drives men to unwarranted sexual advances and sensitizes women to sexual threats even if they are in play rather than real. If women were removed from the military again, would these problems be minimized. Blaming AmLegion commanders for insufficient plans to punish and more importantly to prevent sexual assault is ill-founded, I believe, until women are totally (for the most part) barred from the military. Otherwise these problems will escalate. NOTE: The Soviets as an advancing army reward their troops not with pay but with civilian women to assault with command permission. Only a culture founded upon the Christian morals will retard this in men and sadly, we have lost that culture within my lifetime in the USA.
  6. In 2012, an anonymous survey showed that there were 26,000 incidents of sexual assault, but only 3,374 were reported, and only 190 were arraigned. Why are so few incidents reported? Because women know that, if they report, THEY will be accused of leading the man on, trying to ruin a man's career, or even of being incompetent and bringing charges to avoid their own misdeeds. There will be harassment, snide comments and jokes, and, quite often, she will be given the worst assignments and details as punishment. The man involved will usually be either transferred out of the area or even promoted out. She is better off keeping her mouth shut, but that has consequences, too. Many victims become alcohol/drug addicted, and attempted suicides. Many complete the suicide. After years of misery, there will be a PTSD claim. Punishing perpetrators is one strategy that will help, but there is another one. Teach all military personnel what rape is. TEACH your kids what rape is. It is rape if the woman is unable to say "no," whether by force, being too drunk or drugged, too young, or unconscious. It doesn't matter how she was dressed, how much she drank, or whether she knew she was being drugged. Prevention is much better than cure.
  7. Where does the Legion stand on taking the whole issue of sexual assault out of the chain of command as proposed by the STOP Act (H.R. 1593)? The resolution will only address a symptom of military sexual assault. Does the Legion believe that the culture which created this problem can effectively eradicate the problem? Just for the record, I am a PUFL Member of Patrick Henry Post 34 in Maryland.
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