The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, declared that sexual assaults constitutes a crisis in the military. "We're losing the confidence of the women who serve that we can solve this problem. That's a crisis." Dempsey has been researching this issue and the effect a decade long conflict has had on the force.
According to the American Forces Press Service, Dempsey believes that the increase in sexual assaults, the rise in suicides, and the increase in instances of misconduct and indiscipline are somehow related. "This is not to make excuses," he said. "We should be better than this. In fact, we have to be better than this."
A Pentagon report states about 9 of 10 military suicides involved enlisted personnel, not officers. Suicides among veterans, according to the VA, averages about 22 per day. According to the Washington Times, the number of sex abuse reports has risen from 1,700 a decade ago to 3,374 last year. Even officer’s misconduct has affected the force. Recently, three Army generals committed separate misconducts, including sexually groping a female civilian.
Lawmakers are furious that for the second time in a month a member of the armed forces assigned to help prevent sexual assaults is under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct. Anu Bhagwati, executive director of Service Women's Action Network and former Marine captain stated that "If military culture is to transform in any meaningful way, we need to break down the doors of silence and make sure our troops who are harmed have access to the same legal remedies as all civilians whom they protect and defend," she added. "We can start by ensuring that military crimes are no longer handled by commanding officers, but rather by impartial attorneys and judges."
All service branches are reviewing the effects of multiple and long term deployments on their members and seem open to exploring solutions for this crisis. Dempsey stated “That's why we are very open to some of these legislative recommendations on changing the [Uniform Code of Military Justice], I just want to make sure I understand the second- and third-order of effects of them. He also stated “I would like each service to look at this and then bring back to the Joint Chiefs to see what we can learn among us all.”
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