During the recent VA Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation meeting, Bette Stebbins of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office provided an update on the office, which was established in 2004 and reports to the deputy undersecretary of Defense.
In fiscal 2009, there were 3,230 DoD reports of sexual assault in the military. The current challenges are underreporting, data collection, victim reporting verification and victim's private communication. There are two types of reporting: restricted and unrestricted. Unrestricted are the most common types of reporting; the command and investigative services are notified and treatment is immediately provided. The benefits of restrictive reporting are it allows the victim to confidentially report a rape to VA upon discharge.
The office is currently developing a Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database that it expects to be fully operational in one year. The goal of the database is to have all service reporting feed into the database to catalog names, Social Security numbers, dates, types of report services offered and services received.
The American Legion will be scheduling a meeting with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program Office in the near future.