United States: Department of Defense Provides New Options, Resources for Sexual Assault Victims
Thursday, April 19, 2012 9:45 AM

The Department of Defense has instituted new procedures to assist victims of sexual assault. Air Force Major General May Kay Hertog, director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, said that victims may now request an expedited transfer. The local commander must respond to an expedited transfer request within 72 hours, and if the transfer is denied, the victim may appeal to the first flag or general officer.

In addition to changes to transfer requests, a new document retention plan has been instituted. Victims often initially file a restricted report, which will now be held for five years. However, at any time the victim can request that file be switched to unrestricted status, and as such, it will be retained for 50 years. This will aid service members and veterans seeking medical aid who previously did not have a record of their sexual assault in their military service file.

Myriad other changes have been recently implemented as well. 

  • First, legal assistance for victims has been expanded in order to encourage trying perpetrators in the military justice system.
  • Second, all DOD civilians and contractors deployed abroad, and dependents over 18 years-old now have access to the military’s sexual assault response services.
  • Third, military investigative units, such as Naval Criminal Investigation Service, have begun training on proper investigation of sexual assault cases.
  • Finally, the DOD has contracted with the independent group Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) to provide 24-hour assistance via the internet, phone, and texting. DOD personnel worked closely with RAINN service providers to train them on military terminology and general operations.

Secretary of Defense, Leon E. Panetta, has made it clear that addressing the rising numbers of sexual assaults within the military is one of his top priorities, stating “Sexual assault has no place in this department. It is an affront to the basic American values we defend, and to the good honor of our service members and their families.”

Compiled from: Marshall Jr., Tyrone C., Army Sgt. 1st Class, DOD Implements Changes to Sexual Assault Response, American Force Press Services (2 April 2012); DOD Releases Annual Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Report, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) News Releases (13 April 2012).