SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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[H.A.S.C. No. 10820]
SEXUAL ASSAULT PREVENTION AND RESPONSE IN THE ARMED FORCES
TOTAL FORCE SUBCOMMITTEE
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH CONGRESS
JUNE 3, 2004
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TOTAL FORCE SUBCOMMITTEE
JOHN M. McHUGH, New York, Chairman
TOM COLE, Oklahoma
CANDICE S. MILLER, Michigan
PHIL GINGREY, Georgia
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
JIM RYUN, Kansas
ED SCHROCK, Virginia
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
VIC SNYDER, Arkansas
MARTY MEEHAN, Massachusetts
LORETTA SANCHEZ, California
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
JIM COOPER, Tennessee
MADELEINE Z. BORDALLO, Guam
Lynn Henselman, Professional Staff Member
Elizabeth McAlpine, Staff Assistant
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CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF HEARINGS
Thursday, June 3, 2004,
Thursday, June 3, 2004
THURSDAY, JUNE 3, 2004
SEXUAL ASSAULT PREVENTION AND RESPONSE IN THE ARMED FORCES
STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
McHugh, Hon. John M., a Representative from New York, Chairman, Total Force Subcommittee
Snyder, Hon. Vic, a Representative from Arkansas, Ranking Member, Total Force Subcommittee
Berkowitz, Scott, President and Founder for the Rape, Assault and Incest National Network (RAINN)
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Brown, Reginald, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Department of the Army
Chu, Dr. David S.C., Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Department of Defense
Dominguez, Michael, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Department of the Air Force
Embrey, Ellen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Health Protection and Readiness, 'Chair, DOD Task Force on Care for Victims of Sexual Assault, Department of Defense
Murphy, Dr. Frances M., Under Secretary for Health Policy Coordination for the Veterans' Health Administration, Department of Veterans' Affairs
Navas, William, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Department of the Navy
Walters, Juliet, Training Director for the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPREPARED STATEMENTS:
Brown, Reginald J.
Chu, Dr. David S.C. joint with Ellen P. Embrey
Dominguez, Michael L.
Hansen, Christine, Executive Director, The Miles Foundation
Houser, Kristen, Vice President, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
McHugh, Hon. John M.
Murphy, Dr. Frances
Navas, William A., Jr.
Slaughter, Hon. Louise M., a Representative from New York
Snyder, Hon. Vic
Tauscher, Hon. Ellen O.
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DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Documents submitted can be viewed in the hard copy.]
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Questions and Answers can be viewed in the hard copy.]
SEXUAL ASSAULT PREVENTION AND RESPONSE IN THE ARMED FORCES
House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Total Force Subcommittee,
Washington, DC, Thursday, June 3, 2004.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:01 a.m., in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John McHugh (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN M. MCHUGH, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM NEW YORK, CHAIRMAN, TOTAL FORCE SUBCOMMITTEE
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Mr. MCHUGH. We will call the hearing to order. But before everybody gets real excited, let me explain something.
We are toldand this all developed as we speakthere will be a vote coming within moments. Thereafter, a new member elected in a special electionand we congratulate her, a new member of the minority partywill be sworn in. Dr. Snyder has asked, pursuant to his leadership's request, understandably, that all members of the caucus be on the floor for that swearing in, that in the interim period, we suspend this hearing.
I am guessing that will probably mean about a 30-minute suspension. I greatly apologize. I know Dr. Snyder does as well. And it is not our intent to impose upon your valuable time.
But Mr. SecretaryMr. SecretariesI hope you understand. We have certain protocols. And we have to respect that.
And as I mentioned, this was not in any way foreseen when we scheduled this. However, because Ms. Sanchez is here, the other side has graciously at least allowed us to begin with our opening statements to accommodate that, so that when we get back, there is less of that to do and more opportunity to hear from you.
So if I may, first of all, welcome.
Mr. CHU. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you all.
I would like to begin by reading a letter that was published this week in the Army Times by Sergeant First Class Laurie Emmer of Fort Bragg. The letter, as she entitled it, is ''A Leadership Test.'' And it sums up, I believe, why we are here today and why we need to be diligent in our efforts to overhaul prevention and response measures related to crimes of sexual assault in the military.
In Sergeant Emmer's letter, she describes herself as a ''seasoned and resourceful senior non-commissioned officer and paratrooper.'' Sergeant Emmer provides her insights from the perspective of being a rape victim and a leader.
She states, ''I must advise victims to report a crime if they seek justice. But I believe they should be aware of the treatment they may receive within their chain of command. I am one who regrets reporting my assault.''
''My assailant was a non-American soldier. Initially, my chain was fantastic and I was treated well. But after I returned from deployment, I found myself constantly running into stone doors.''
The sergeant then continues her letter by describing accounts of her re-victimization resulting from the lack of privacy, victim advocacy and coordinated care as she sought support services.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The sergeant closes her letter with the following advice: ''Victims still can be great soldiers. But continued victimization after the rape is demoralizing. My leader book now will contain a list on resources for sexual assault victims in case any of my soldiers goes through this.''
''I know, as a leader, it is right to report sexual assault. But as a victim, I regret doing so. No soldiers should ever feel that way, be they male, female, enlisted or officer.''
Sergeant Emmer's experience is just another example of the system failing our servicemembers. And Iand I know the other members of this bodyare deeply concerned that, over the past 15 years, the Department of Defense (DOD) has been confronted with several major sexual assault and misconduct incidents, including the 1991 Tailhook convention, Aberdeen Proving Ground trainees in 1996 and the more recent Air Force Academy cases.
Despite lessons learned and calls for corrective action, many of the same problems identified in earlier investigations appear to remain unresolved with sexual assaults continuing to plague the military at what can fairly be described as alarming rates. Recently, the Department of Defense and the services conducted a series of assessments of their policies and procedures for preventing and responding to sexual assaults.
I find it to be a positive step that during these reviews the department and services consulted a variety of Federal and civilian experts for their valuable insights, especially as we are constantly reminded that problems of sexual assault are not unique to the military but, as we all sadly know, exist throughout our nation.
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Today's hearing is part of the effort of the Total Force Subcommittee to better understand the issues associated with sexual assault in the military and what should be done to provide effective prevention and response measures. And to that end, the subcommittee has several objectives today for this hearing.
Number one, we would like to understand what the 90-day Department of Defense Task Force and the services have found from their assessments of sexual assault policies and programs, including of course the strengths and the weaknesses. Second, we want to know what specific recommendations the Department of Defense and the services have made and what is being implemented in order to assure appropriate prevention and response capabilities and how these measures will be institutionalized and resourced short and long term.
Third, we would like to understand the Department of Veterans Affairs impressions of the Department of Defense's efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault, the scope of the problem of sexual trauma in our veterans and the needs of veterans who have experienced sexual trauma while in the military. We are fortunate today to have three witnesses who will address the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Sexual Trauma Program. As many of our service members leave the military and transition to the VA system, it is imperative that sexual assault victims have a continuum of care for their emotional and medical needs.
We have eight witnesses on two panels today. And we would like to give each of the witnesses the opportunity to present his or her testimony.
We would respectfully request, when we get to that point, therefore, that the witnesses, to the greatest extent possible, summarize their statementsthe highlightsand try to confine their testimony to five minutes or so. And I can assure you that, without objection, all of your comments in their entirety and statements will be made a part of the hearing record.
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And I am going to repeat this when there are more members in here. But protocol dictates that I do this now. In addition, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence and the Miles Foundation have submitted statements to the subcommittee.
If there is no objection, both of these statements will be made part of the hearing record. I suspect there will not be, but I will repeat that later. And we will get to the first panel and withhold the introductions until we do return.
But until that time, I would be happy to yield to the gentlelady from California, who has been one of the real leaders on this issue, someone who is, not just as a member of this subcommittee and the full Committee on Armed Services, but as a citizen of this country, cares deeply about this issue. And I appreciate both her presence here and of course her leadership at all times.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And first of all, I want to begin by thanking the committee for putting this hearing together today.
As you know, this is a very important and timely issue, especially with the operations tempo that is happening with respect to Iraq. And therefore, it is critical that our servicemembers, especially those serving far from home, are afforded comprehensive resources and medical care in the event of sexual assault.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would also like to express my thanks to the Department of Defense and the services for acting on this issue.
In late January, I sent a letter to Secretary Rumsfeld with 25 of my colleagues, many of them on this committee, asking for a comprehensive review of existing procedures for investigating and prosecuting sexual assault offenses within the military justice system. We also requested DOD's assessment of victim care and support programs.
DOD quickly launched this review. And I believe that DOD's report, as well as that conducted by the Army and Air Force, gives us an important platform from which to move forward.
I would have to say that yesterday, one of my colleagues, knowing that I have been working on this issue for a while, asked me, ''What do you think of these reports?'' And the first words out of my mouth were, ''Pretty milquetoast.''
Now I read the Washington Post article today, for example. I am not one of those people who thinks that everything is going bad or that it is screaming headlines about this. I think what has happened is the news media picked up on this; Congress becamerightly sooutraged about this.
We asked for information. We asked for a study. We asked for reports. DOD is responding to that.
So I think the system is actually working with respect to this. But I think one of the blaring things that comes out of these reports that I have read is really the inability for us to really understand because the data is just not there for us to really understand what is going on.
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And probably one of the biggest blaring omissions or inability to calculate is really the crimes that are not reported. And I know a lot about this personally. And I would think that in the military it is even more difficult to report when one has been sexually assaulted.
So I think that this hearing is important for us to have. But I really believe that there needs to be a decision to gather data, to look at services.
And by the wayand I will say it againI believe there are a significant number of gaps in Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which is used to prosecute sexual assault. And although, Mr. Chairman, I am disappointed that this revision did not make it into the authorizing bill this year, I look forward to working with DOD over the forthcoming months to ensure that a thorough and comprehensive and a powerful revision is made to the UCMJ and we can enact it next year. Thank you.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank the gentlelady for again her leadership. And as I did in the full committee markup, I assure her, her last comments and her leadership in that will not go unrecognized. And we are going to work to make sure that happens.
So with that, we will stand the committee in recess, with my apologies again. We will get back as soon as we canguestimate, 30 minutes.
Mr. CHU. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. MCHUGH. The hearing will resume order. As we were saying before, thank you to the panelists for being here. Appreciate that and look forward to your comments.
But certainly, before we get to that point, I want to yield to the ranking member, the distinguished gentleman from Arkansas, Dr. Snyder, who on all issues, but certainly on this issue particularly, has been very, very engaged. And I deeply appreciate his professional and unique perspective and his cooperation and partnership in this initiative.
So with that, I would be happy to yield to the gentleman.
STATEMENT OF HON. VIC SNYDER, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM ARKANSAS, RANKING MEMBER, TOTAL FORCE SUBCOMMITTEE
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I will be brief. I am sorry I missed your opening statement. I missed the statement of Ms. Sanchez.
We apparently had some bad information from staff. I was sitting in my office at two minutes to 10 saying, ''They are not going to begin?'' ''No, they are not going to begin.''
I was actually, if it makes you feel any better, Dr. Chu, I was reading your opening statement. I guess I should have been reading Mr. McHugh's. [Laughter.]
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The only thing I will say is this is obviously a very, very important topic. It is also obvious from the work that has been going on the last few months that a lot of work has been going on the last few months.
It appears to me that historically our military has often led the way on social change, whether it is the status of women, the status of minorities. This appears to be one of those areas where, in fact, we fall behind.
And I hope that the efforts that have been going on the last few months and what is going to happen over the next few months and years will put the military at the forefront again of dealing with these issues and the kind of policies that you all want to have in place.
So thank you, Mr. Chairman. I look forward to the testimony.
Mr. MCHUGH. I thank the gentleman. And I think this snafu was unavoidable. But to the extent that it has disrupted this hearing, I certainly apologize, not just to him, but to everyone.
I am going to make a special request. And I can only request because, as the chair, I am not going to deny any other member the opportunity to make comments.
But given the fact that we have already delayed the start of this hearing and have impeded upon the valuable time of both panels, I would ask other members if they would consider, rather than making opening statements, to submit their statements for the record.
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Having said that, I will ask: do any other members have opening comments? I thank all the members for their cooperation.
And with that, let me introduce the first panel. No stranger to this subcommittee, first is David Chu, under secretary of defense for personnel and readinessMr. Secretary, welcome; Ms. Ellen Embrey, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force health protection and readiness, also the chair of the Department of Defense Task Force on Care for Victims of Sexual Assault; Mr. Reginald Brown, the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs; Mr. William Navas, assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs; Michael Dominguez, assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs.
Welcome, as I said to you all. Let me restate what I stated in my opening comments that I said I would restate, if I can find that. Where would that be? Thank you, yes.
We do have written statements submitted from the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence and the Miles Foundation for submission to the record. And without objection, they will be made part of the record. Hearing none, so ordered.
I also want to announceI am going to forego that. I will see how that goes.
So with that, having said all that I have to say at this point, Mr. Secretary, I understand youSecretary Chuand Ms. Embrey are going to give a semi-joint presentation?
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Mr. CHU. Yes, sir.
Mr. MCHUGH. So with that, I would be happy to yield to you or both or either of you, I guess. Welcome.
STATEMENT OF DR. DAVID S.C. CHU, UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR PERSONNEL AND READINESS, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Dr. CHU. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Dr. Snyder, members of the subcommittee.
First, let me begin by expressing my thanks broadly for the many things that you in this subcommittee and the large committee have done to support our troops. This is essential, given the many challenges that they face in the global war on terrorism, and particularly in the dangerous and difficult task they have to perform in Afghanistan and Iraq. And we are very grateful for the support because I believe it is essential to their long-term performance of the high-level performance that they have achieved.
We appreciate your willingness to accept our statements for the record. As you have noted, Mr. Chairman, in your opening remarks, sexual assault is a blight on our society, a blight from which the military is unfortunately not immune.
We are heartened by the fact that between the mid1990's and the early 2000 period, 2002, based upon anonymous self-reports and survey instruments, which the professionals tell me is one of the better ways to measure underlying incidence of issues like sexual assaults, that the rate of sexual assault in the military has been cut in half. But our agenda, as Dr. Snyder has indicated, is to do better than that and, in fact, to help lead the way in this regard.
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With that background, the Secretary asked that the department review, as Ms. Sanchez noted, early this year the policies and programs of the department. It is a review Ms. Embrey led. And she will briefly summarize its findings.
I would like, after she has done so, to say just a word or two about our actions to date on those findings and then invite my colleagues to say something about the individual military department similar efforts.
[The joint prepared statement of Dr. Chu and Ms. Embrey can be viewed in the hard copy.]
STATEMENT OF ELLEN EMBREY, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR FORCE HEALTH PROTECTION AND READINESS, CHAIR, DOD TASK FORCE ON CARE FOR VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Ms. EMBREY. Well, thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I will go right into the summary of the task force findings.
The task force found 35 findings that can be characterized as follows: first, current policies and programs focus primarily on deterring sexual harassment and sustaining an optimal climate for day-to-day operations for women and men in the workforce. We found that more direct focus is needed on sexual assault prevention and response.
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Further, the task force found that there were no DOD-wide standards, guidelines or policies that address sexual assault prevention.
Second, while military commanders were very concerned when the occasion of a sexual assault was reported, they were often not sufficiently trained or educated or sensitive to the needs of sexual assault victims. We found, generally speaking, that they needed better tools, guidelines and training on sexual assault prevention and response.
In particular, we found that leaders need to better understand the effects that sexual assaults have on a victim and on the unit. They needed to better understand safety and protection measures available to them and others.
They needed to consider privacy and confidentiality issues. And they needed to understand the importance of the role of victim advocates.
With respect to victim support, the task force found that multi-functional teams are needed to respond to victims. We also found that victim advocates that are currently available in the Navy and Marine Corps do make a difference in being responsive to the victims' needs.
We are looking at expanding their role in the department. And research shows that this will make a significant difference in victim care, support and recovery.
Fifth, the task force found a forcewide need for training and awareness to help leaders and servicemembers identify risk factors, how and where to access help, what to expect when care is provided and finally, the importance of reporting.
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And based on those 35 findings, which I have broadly summarized, the task force made nine very broad recommendations. Four of them require immediate action.
The first was to establish a single policy office for all sexual assault matters within the office of the Secretary of Defense. Second, we felt that we needed to discuss how best to apply the task force findings and recommendations at a recently held combatant commanders conference.
Third, we felt we needed to leverage departmentwide communication networks to train and inform the force right now on sexual assault matters. And fourth, we felt that we needed to convene a summit to resolve very complex issues that needed the fullest possible input from the services and combatant commanders, much broader input that could be provided in the 75 days available to this task force.
At that summit, which we hope will be accomplished later this summer, the agenda calls for the department to resolve the confusion on terms, behaviors and legal definitions of sexual assault. We also call to identify the way in which DOD intends to meet the privacy and confidentiality needs of victims; also to assess the best approach for increasing the transparency on the reasons for command dispositions in sexual assault cases; and finally, to develop courses of action on the best ways to deliver sexual assault response capability in remote U.S., overseas and combat locations.
The task force recommended four near-term actions. These include: working with the services to develop DOD-wide policies, guidelines and standards of care; also to establish a Federal advisory council on sexual assault matters.
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Additionally, we felt we needed to determine and provide needed fiscal and manpower resources to achieve the objectives that we seek. And last, we felt it was very important to improve data collection and establish effective oversight tools; in particular, fully fielding the defense incident-based reporting system and the development of tools to help the services assess trends and monitor the timeliness and effectiveness of their prevention and response efforts.
The final recommendation is longer term and, if accepted, would establish a quality improvement program that includes periodic reviews, an annual research agenda and performance outcome tracking.
This concludes my opening remarks. And I look forward to answering your questions later.
Dr. CHU. Mr. Chairman, let me say very briefly where we stand on these recommendations. We have, as Ms. Embrey's comments, implied, indeed undertaken the consultation with combatant commanders. She and I spent a very productive, over one hour, with them when they were meeting here in Washington to discuss these findings. And I think they understand the importance of the findings and they understand their responsibility.
The Secretary has told each combatant commander that he expects him to sit down with his principal subordinates and discuss a series of key questions, including the first question always when an incident occurs: are people comfortable in coming forward to report in my command? And the Secretary expects that conversation to continue all the way down the chain of command to the lowest level at which a commissioned officer exercises command in the department and expects to hear back from the combatant commanders about their findings thereon.
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We will be establishing the office that Ms. Embrey's report recommends. I hope that will be accomplished in the next few weeks.
And I have set as a goal of the department to put into place by the end of the fiscal year the defense incident-based reporting system that is essential to our improved data needs. It is a software challenge to do it by that date. Whether we can make that date or not, I think is an open question. But that is the goal we have identified.
With that, it would be constructive, if you will permit, Mr. Chairman, to allow each service assistant secretary to say a word or two about the service efforts in this regard.
Mr. BROWN. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCHUGH. Mr. Secretary, welcome. I am sorry, please, we are anxiously awaiting your testimony.
STATEMENT OF REGNIALD BROWN, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY FOR MANPOWER AND RESERVE AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
Secretary BROWN. Okay. Thank you very much for this opportunity. I can say without doubt that the Army is committed to taking care of its soldiers. And sexual assault, as we all know, is a criminal offense. It has no place in our Army, particularly in these days, when the Army is very much dependent on the full participation of women in its ranks in order to accomplish its mission.
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Sexual assault degrades our readiness by devastating our ability to work effectively as a team and it is incompatible with our values. The Army takes every allegation of sexual assault seriously and thoroughly investigates all such allegations.
In February, the acting secretary of the Army directed me to establish a task force to accomplish the following tasks: one, conduct a detailed review of the effectiveness of the Army's policies on reporting and addressing allegations of sexual assault; two, review current procedures to ensure a climate in which victims feel free to report allegations and leaders understand their responsibilities; and finally, to recommend changes or additions to current policies to provide clear guidance for addressing sexual assault allegations.
The task force assessed current Army policies and programs and examined available data pertaining to investigations, disposition of offenses, victim services and command climate. This assessment included a review of sexual assault reporting procedures.
The task force examined the Army functional organizations that deal with sexual assault, including those concerned with law enforcement, criminal investigation, legal, medical, chaplain, training and family advocacy matters. And I believe this task force report has been made available to you and the other Members of the Congress.
The task force reached a number of conclusions. Among these is the fact that the Army sexual assault prevention and response policies and programs are not fully integrated. Furthermore, current human relations training programs include prevention of sexual harassment, but address sexual assault prevention and response to a minor extent.
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And finally, actions taken when sexual assault is reported vary among commanders.
These and other conclusions reached by the task force are included in my remarks for the record.
The task force has presented a number of recommendations to the acting secretary of the Army. Foremost among these is the creation of a policy focused on education, prevention, integrated victim support, thorough investigation, appropriate action, timely reporting and follow-up and feedback.
Additionally, the Army should create training that integrates sexual assault topics into all leadership, Army values and human relations training. And finally, the Army should establish a program structure to provide support to sexual assault victims through victim advocates and victim advocate coordinators.
The Army has already begun to implement the following specific task force recommendations: the G1 (Deputy Chief of Staff) of the Army has been assigned the responsibility for the Army's prevention and response to a sexual assault policy and program. They have begun drafting this policy and will incorporate it into Army command policy, disseminating it throughout the Army.
Additionally, they are in the process of evaluating existing capabilities for the development of an integrated sexual assault data management system to accommodate DOD's desire that we be able to report effectively in that regard.
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The G3 (Operations and Readiness) has received money from the Joint Study Council to begin updating existing sexual assault training modules and to develop new training modules. These updates will emphasize sexual assault as a crime that goes against the tenets of warrior ethos and that impact readiness.
The provost marshal general, the commander of U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID), has sent a message to the field reemphasizing oversight by commanders and compliance with existing AR 19045that is law enforcement reportingand Army Regulation 1952, criminal investigation activities. They also began work to revise reporting procedures on specialized training for the first responders.
The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command has also begun conducting an analysis of U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command laboratory practices and procedures, using best practices of civilian crime laboratories to identify actions or practices that can be implemented immediately to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and timeliness of DNA processing.
The Office of the Judge Advocate General has begun development of a Victim-Witness Liaison Client Satisfaction Survey to gauge the program effectiveness and potential areas of improvement with the victim-witness liaison officers.
On March of this year, the Surgeon General directed the development of the standardization of guidelines for the management of sexual assault victims. Included in this directive was the development of an exportable training packet, ''Sexual Assault Responder Training,'' for use by soldiers in garrison or deployed. The training also will include specific sections for the commander, the counselor, the physician and concerned friends and list applicable military regulations and UCMJ provisions.
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In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that the report delivered to the acting secretary of the Army represents a comprehensive review of Army's policies and programs as they pertain to the prevention, response and care for the victims of sexual assault. These findings reinforce the belief that proactive involvement by leaders at all levels is the key to successfully addressing sexual assault in the Army.
And I look forward to answering your questions.
[The prepared statement of Secretary Brown can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you, Secretary Brown.
I next yield to Secretary Navas. Welcome, sir.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM NAVAS, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY FOR MANPOWER AND RESERVE AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY
Secretary Navas. Mr. Chairman, Dr. Snyder, distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today on behalf of the men and women of our Navy and Marine Corps. Per your request, Mr. Chairman, I will submit my written statement for the record, but I would like to make so me brief remarks.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Once more, I would like to thank the members of this subcommittee and, as a matter of fact the entire Congress, for the strong support you have continuously provided to our nation's military forces. Since the attacks on September 11, we have asked more and more of our military personnel. And they have risen to the challenge.
As we expect our servicemembers to hold themselves to a higher standard every day, it is because of this higher standard that we have the responsibility to place upon our personnel that social ills such as sexual assault must be dealt with immediately and effectively.
The Secretary of the Navy has made clear that there is zero tolerance for sexual assault in the Department of the Navy. Whenever an assault occurs, we act immediately to handle the specific case, take care of the victim, conduct a full and fair investigation and take prompt and remedial action.
The Department of the Navy has focused on finding ways to improve our existing programs. My written statement contains more details about the Navy and Marine Corps Sexual Assault Prevention and Intervention programs. But let me summarize them as follows.
In 1996, the Secretary of the Navy promulgated a Navy instructionthis is the equivalent of the Army regulation; it has that weightthat establishes basic standards and requirements for sexual assault prevention programs within the Department of the Navy. Each of our two services then developed programs based on those general requirements, adapted to the Navy and Marine Corps specific needs.
Our overall Sexual Assault Victim Intervention program, which we will call SAVI for short, is the heart and soul of our ability to properly respond to sexual assault. It focuses on victim advocacy and intervention, two of the keystones in successfully dealing with a sexual assault.
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The Navy's SAVI program is a dedicated and resourced sexual assault program in the Department of Defense. The goal is to provide a comprehensive, standardized, gender-neutral, victim-sensitive system to first prevent and second to respond to sexual assault throughout the Navy.
The Marine Corps victim advocate program provides victim advocates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for guidance and support of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The Marine Corps is draftingand I think it is about to be signed by the commandanta Marine Corps Order 17525 entitled ''Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program.'' And this goes beyond the victim assistance program and is more in line with the Navy's SAVI program.
This order provides clear policy and procedures and sexual assault prevention and awareness training; victim support and advocacy and sexual assault reporting and tracking.
The Navy and Marine Corps are committed to improving our effort. And this is an issue that we have to constantly deal with to see where we are and try to seek to improve. We have less data than we would like. And we have heard this as a common theme.
We know from surveys inside and outside the Navy that a significant number of sexual assaults are not reported. That is a problem that we have to deal with.
We continue to improve on data collection by drawing trends from the data we have, so that we can improve our programs, see where they are working, see in other areas where we need to improve.
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In closing, this committee's strong support and commitment to our servicemembers continues to have a positive impact on their well-being. As we work aggressively to address the issue of sexual assault, the challenges remain.
But we are committed to providing the best environment possible for our servicemembers so they can continue to bravely protect the freedoms we all enjoy. I thank you again for your support. And I look forward to answering any questions you might have.
[The prepared statement of Secretary Navas can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you, sir.
Next, we will hear from Secretary Dominguez, United States Air Force. Welcome, sir.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL DOMINGUEZ, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE FOR MANPOWER AND RESERVE AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
Secretary DOMINGUEZ. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss with you today the important issue of sexual assault in the U.S. Air Force.
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Air Force leaders have been working this problem hard for the last 18 months. Our efforts began in January 2003 with receipt by Secretary Roche of an email from an Air Force Academy cadet victim.
Air Force leaders moved decisively, first to correct problems at our academy through the agenda for change; second, to determine whether the Academy situation was more broadly an Air Force problem by commissioning General Begert's study of rape in the Pacific Air Force; third, to investigate allegations made in the press of assaults at Sheppard Air Force Base; and finally, to launch an Air Force-wide assessment of our sexual assault policies, practices and programs.
Air Force assessment teams visited 85 installations, including visits to installations in Southwest Asia. We reached out to over 100,000 personnel, through interviews, surveys and focus groups.
Even before our assessment was complete, Secretary Roche and General Jumper acted to correct discovered deficiencies. Under their guidance, I began a dialogue with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) officials over the matter of confidential reporting.
The Secretary and chief of staff established better procedures to coordinate support and assistance for victims, building off a benchmark program at Nellis Air Force Base. They ordered increased Air Force manning and assistance to the U.S. Army's criminal investigation lab to speed forensic evidence to commanders and prosecutors. And finally, the eliminated ambiguity and responsibility for policy and program oversight by vesting that responsibility with me.
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Our experience working with former Congresswoman Fowler's panel convinced us of the need to seek help from outside experts. We did so. And the knowledge we gained has shaped our understanding ofand thus, our campaign planfor dealing with the crimes of sexual assault.
The findings from our Air Force-wide assessment are broadly consistent with the findings of Ms. Embrey's task force, in which we also participated. Importantly, our findings are also consistent with the latest Department of Justice-sponsored research on this subject.
Allow me to highlight a few key observations from that body of work. Sexual assault covers a broader range of behaviors than rape.
Violent rape by strangers does occur. But the larger sexual assault problem involves young people who know each other.
Alcohol is frequently a factor. Complex circumstances make it very difficult to prove and to prosecute. Perpetrators often do not meet society's stereotypes and are therefore difficult to detect. Finally, barriers to reporting of the crime by victims are substantial.
The Justice Department's Fisher Study of calendar year 2000 found that ''one in four college-aged women have experienced some form of completed rape or attempted rape.''
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. David Lisak, a nationally respected consulting expert, concludes, ''Sexual violence on that scale can only exist in a culture that facilitates it.''
Our attack on sexual assault must therefore be a broad spectrum campaign, aimed at changing or eliminating attitudes, behaviors and beliefs that can be exploited by sexual offenders. A cultural change campaign will extend well beyond a laser-like focus on criminal prosecution of the offender, although that is and must continue to be a priority.
Changing culture will require long-term sustained effort by all of us. But in the armed forces, commanders are, will and must be at the center of the change effort.
Thank you. I look forward to taking your questions.
[The prepared statement of Secretary Dominguez can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you all. And again, thank you for being here.
I think, fairly so, I am certainly going to start from the premise that all of us hereyou at the table, those of us on the committee daisare abhorred by this circumstance and want to do everything we can to ensure that we put into place effective policies to make a big, big difference.
And if I read your statements, which I have, listen to your comments, certainly look at Ms. Embrey's report, I see a whole lot of good ideas and a whole lot of positive direction. But I think it is impossible to separate ourselves from the history of this.
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We did a little analysis over the 15 years, from today in Ms. Embrey's report back, we have had 18 major studies on sexual assault. That is more than one a year. And yet, the 90-day study that Ms. Embrey conducted suggests that, to put it kindly, we have a long way to go before we have in place the kinds of programs, in terms of both prosecution and prevention and response, that are necessary.
How do we begin to reassure, first of all, most importantly, by and large women? It is not just a crime predicated against women, but overwhelmingly the statistics are against women.
How do we assure them that we are serious this time? And how would you assure this Congress?
I just think it is important that we try to convey a sense of sincerity here and genuine purpose, because for 18 studies in 15 years, for whatever reason, it has not happened. How would you respond to that, Mr. Secretary? Secretary Chu?
Dr. CHU. First of all, sir, I think we all subscribe to the central point you make, which is this is a serious and damaging matter. We are dedicated to correcting the failings that we share with our larger society, as you emphasize.
I do think that you can see, over that same period, from the material the Congress has by statute directed we collect, that we are making progress. Your committee requires every four years we conduct a sexual harassment survey, which includes sexual assault in its purview.
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And in 1995 and in 2002, that survey was conducted in a way that is consistent so we can measure what is happening. I think the good news is that, both for sexual harassment and sexual assault, there is a substantial reduction in the self-reportthese are anonymous surveys, 20,000 respondents from the military ranksthere is substantial reduction in the incidents that individuals report, including cutting the rate of sexual assault in half.
Second good news, I think, in terms of this same 15-year period is that a much higher fraction of our people in 2002 than was true in 1995 believe that we do indeed take it seriously and that their commanders take it seriously and that they have received some degree of training on these issues. That all said, we agree with the premise, I think, of this hearing, which is we can and must do better. And we are committed to that. And we have seen a series of statements.
I do think in the ranks what does help underscore the seriousness of purpose that you have correctly invited us to convey is the fact that the four-star commanders who are the menand eventually we will have a four-star woman commander too, I am confidentand women to whom our people look up to have made it publicly clear in their messages that they are carrying out the Secretary's intent: this is wrong; we are determined to root it out; we are determined to prevent it; we are determined to punish those who perpetrate it.
And that, I think, will convey all the way down the chain of command exactly the seriousness of purpose that you are seeking.
Mr. MCHUGH. Any other comments from the panel?
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Secretary BROWN. I might add, Mr. Chairman, that in the case of the Army, subsequent to Aberdeen issues of sexual harassment, the Army has implemented a very vigorous program dealing with sexual harassment. And the actual incidence has decreased dramatically.
And it just highlights what can be done when the focus is put on an issue. So the fact that we are focusing on this now, I think is of value.
Secretary DOMINGUEZ. Mr. Chairman, I might add, if I might, the recommendation that Ms. Embrey's task force brought forward of creating an office, where there is a central point of accountability for this issue, it is going to be visible. There will be a place that works this problem and will keep the focus on this problem in the Department of Defense.
Mr. MCHUGH. I appreciate you saying that. Obviously, I cannot say substantively what happened, the other 17 reports. But whatever happened, it was not good enough.
And I can only underscore, I think we are at a crisis point here. I happen to believe that we are at a juncture. And if you listen to Sergeant First Class Emmer's words in her letter, I think we are in real danger of losing the faith and trust of the female contingent in the United States military. And that would be a catastrophe.
And I think that we have a challenge here, not just to have in our hearts the intent of doing the right thing, not just having on paper and procedurally through regulations a system that provides a channel for those right things to happen, but we have a real selling job with a vast population of the United States military's women to ensure that they have some confidence in the reporting system. And I think that Sergeant Emmer's comments, tragic as they are, are not probably singular in their approach.
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And this is a time of great challenge. And we cannot afford to let this drop again.
And I have a lot of other questions, but I am going to reserve my time and yield to the ranking member.
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Chu, in our discussion yesterday in my office and then today you again talked about the progress that has been made over the last several years in terms of the dropping in the survey results, I have some concerns about that, after having read the Army report, that we did not talk about yesterday.
My concern is that the question has changed from 2000 to 2003. And Ms. Embrey, I think you are kind of the analyst and Dr. Chu also.
But on page 40 of the Army report, it says, ''In the 2000 survey, 3.2 percent of male and 6.3 percent of female soldiers reported that within the previous 12 months, military personnel and civilian personnel in the workplace 'had sex without their consent or against their will.''' Had sex without their consent or against their will. That was a little over six percent reporting for women soldiers in 2000.
But in the 2003 survey, the question had changed. And it says, ''A new question indicated that four percent of female soldiers reported that 'they have been subjected to sexual abuse/assault within the past 12 months.' ''
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And Ms. Embrey, we had some very lengthy discussions yesterday about the confusion about the term ''sexual assault'' and what is included. And I would bet that a woman who may say, ''Yes, I have had sex without my consent or against my will,'' may also say, ''Well, it was not a sexual assault or sexual abuse.''
And I think we better be careful about reporting, you know, bragging that we had dramatic improvement or halve the rate when to me those are different questions. Would you agree that we may have an analysis question if that has occurred in the other surveys?
Dr. CHU. Sir, I think you are talking about two different surveys here and have confused the overall department survey with the specific Army survey. The departmental survey, administered in 1995 and 2002, did exactly as you correctly require us to do, which is we ask the question the same way. And we do not ask: were you sexually assaulted? for exactly the reasons that you have described.
Instead, we ask about a series of specific things that might have happened to you and then, using a common standard, we score whether this was a sexual assault or not.
Dr. SNYDER. But now the Army survey is the most recent data we have, is it not? It includes the time of deployments overseas.
Dr. CHU. I think, for exactly the reason you have correctly underscored, sir, you cannot use substantially different survey questions to try to describe trends. You have to use the same question.
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And that is what was done in 1995 with the DOD-wide survey and again in 2002. Same question, same methodology, does indicate, for both sexual harassment and sexual assault, an important, statistically significant, socially significant reduction in incidents.
Dr. SNYDER. Then we have conflicting data then, do we not, from the 2002 survey?
Dr. CHU. I think you are speaking to Army-specific surveys where the Army
Dr. SNYDER. Army-specific.
Dr. CHU. They did change the question. And therefore, you cannot use that to detect a trend for exactly the reasons you have underscored, sir.
Dr. SNYDER. I want to take the four percent number. And Secretary Navasis your name pronounced Navas?
Secretary NAVAS. Navas, yes, sir.
Dr. SNYDER. Navas, yes, thank you. On page four of your opening statement, your written statement, you say that sexual assault is a rare aberration in the Navy and Marine Corps. And if I take Dr. Chu's number of three to four percentand I have not seen the Navy-and Marine Corps-specific surveysbut I do not know if we want to send a message out to our commanders that three to four percent is a rare aberration.
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By my amateurish statistical counting of this room, I think there are over 50 women here. And if I apply the Army data to this, the survey that we have, or Dr. Chu's three to four percent, that would mean that two women in the room in the last 12 months, if they were members of the military, would potentially be in the four percent.
And that is over a 12-month period. If you took a four-year career and add that up, at the end of the career, it would be a significant number.
And I am not sure that I think that we need the word to go out that we are dealing with a problem that is a rare aberration. Three to four percent, as Dr. Chu pointed out, is moving in the right direction. But three to four percent is still not a rare aberration.
Secretary NAVAS. And it might have been a poor choice of words, especially the ''rare'' piece. It is an aberration. And it is something that we have been trying to bring down.
The trends in the Navy, although they are preliminary, are that we have been coming down.
Dr. SNYDER. Been making progress?
Secretary NAVAS. And we are making progress. And we would like to improve. But one is one too many.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. SNYDER. My final two questions I will just lump together and let Ms. Embrey and Dr. Chu respond. The opening statement from our person from RAINN has an eloquent statement there, consistent with what the chairman said, which is: the time for study is over. Critical to report for not having for immediate action.
And one specific thing that you discussed is this summit. And I would like you to describe in more detail how you see this summit is going to be.
Are we talking about a one-day summit? Are we talking about a four-month summit? Are we talking about something open to the public?
Are we talking about a summit that will be an ongoing summit, getting together? Or will we, at the end of a week, Moses will come down from the mountaintop with a gold plate to tell us what to do?
I mean, what are we specifically talking about, what are the goals? And what can we expect to happen?
And then as part of that, Dr. Chu, do you have any specific recommendations for Congress that we need to be doing, legislative issues that we need to be addressing, that you have already reached conclusions about? So if you would discuss those two issues, and then I am done, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. CHU. Let me say just a word on some of them and then ask Ms. Embrey to offer her perspectives, based upon the task force's findings. What the task force has basically done, in my judgment, is identify a series of issues where the department is not of one mind and not sufficiently focused on the standard we should set or the outcome we want to achieve to allow us to be effective in actually implementing programs.
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Back to your injunction: let's act. Let's not just study further.
And let me take one specific issue and that is confidentiality, which is the intention, with the need of commanders, certainly in terms of the military culture in which we operate, to know what is going on in their units. We would expect that. You expect that in these hearings, that we are aware of what is occurring.
And yet, of course, awareness by a broad set of commanders immediately places in jeopardy the amount of confidentiality and privacy that you give the victim. The question we have to resolve is: okay, where do we want to draw the line?
The Air Force has, I think, changed its view as a result of the academy reviews that have been held, including importantly Ms. Fowler's recommendations, the findings she reached and the Air Force's interaction with her. And that may be a precedent for us that we want to adopt for the department as a whole.
So what I see as the point of the summit is a multi-day affair where we bring the key advisers of the department together to decide these issuesnot to debate them interminably, not to call for more research or further reports, but to decide or to recommend to the decisionmaker, in those cases where they do not have the authority to take the action themselves: here is the right course of action. So our confidentiality and privacy, how are we going to come out?
How does it affect various actors in the department? How does it affect chaplains, for example? How does it affect the psychoanalysts in the department? And so on and so forth.
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Those are all sensitive issues. We have to be clear about how we are going to proceed or we can never be successful in implementing programs that are standard across the department in terms of their effect on victims and their effect on both precluding this from occurring in the first place and dealing sensitively and effectively with it, should it happen.
Ellen, do you want to say a few words more about it?
Ms. EMBREY. The task force recommended a summit because we felt that it is a very complex set of issues that requires understanding the various factors that go into why confidentiality is important and why privacy is important, getting clear education to the leaders and decisionmakers about the true barriers to reporting for victims, the difficulties that are coming. And if we are going to make a DOD-wide change, we need: first, people to understand the problems and their complexities; and second, to work together to find proper solutions that we can all accomplish together in a consistent way, that we are all buying into.
And we felt the summit was the best way to do that, bring military and civilian leaders together, as well as appropriate experts from outside, if appropriate, to help people understand the complex factors. I was one of those individuals who had very little background when I started leading this task force.
And I will tell you, based on the experience I had, talking to the victims, talking to commanders, talking to outside experts, this is not an easy issue. And it is something that we all need to understand the complexities and make reasonable decisions about the right way to go.
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And a summit, we envisioned a week-long summit, with specific focus on the issues that we identified in the report.
Dr. SNYDER. Did you have any comments, Dr. Chu, about what you need from Congress? Your report specifically mentions DNA.
Dr. CHU. I do not think we have reached any conclusions yet that would recommend special action. If we do reach such conclusions, we will attempt to transmit them as promptly and as efficaciously as we can.
Dr. SNYDER. And that applies to the DNA issue also?
Dr. CHU. Sir?
Dr. SNYDER. That applies to the DNA issue also? Do you have everything you need at this point?
Dr. CHU. My belief is
Dr. SNYDER. The backlog?
Dr. CHU. Oh, the backlog issue? I think that is a problem the department has to solve on its own. I do not think legislating it is going to be efficacious.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MCHUGH. Thank the gentleman.
The gentlelady from California, Ms. Sanchez.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for being before us today on this issue in particular. I have done a lot of reading. I have gone over some of those reports that our chairman talked about.
And I do think that this has been going on for a long time and that somehow, the Department of Defense has not really taken this seriously over the years. And I hope that this is, at our insistence, the beginning to try to take this seriously and to do something about it.
I mentioned some of my criticisms of the report in my opening statement. And I am listening to each of the services talk about this.
And in some cases, I would agree. There are some good programs, like the SAVI program in the Navy. Of course, the Navy, I think, has the easiest situation going in that you keep your people together, whether it is on a ship or whether you are home in home port.
It is much more difficult for somebody like the Army or Special Forces or the Marines to be in a combat zone like Afghanistan or Iraq and be able to have the same advocate program or the buddy system or whatever goes on when you are actually in a life-and-death type of a situation every day.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I would just say that, you know, that is reflective for the Navy, the fact that the Marines have to have a different system and that, quite frankly, that the Marine system still is not working. A couple of weeks ago, I had the calls from Iraq that told me that there were two Marines, women, servicewomen raped that week by our own servicemembers. The Pentagon did not even know it at that time.
So this continues to happen. It is a very difficult thing to deal with.
And I want to concentrate a little bit today on I think the bulk of what is happening right now in Iraq. And I think that would be to the Army and to the Marines because we have the most people out there, in particular the Army.
I am frankly concerned about the state of the Army. I think all of usyou there, us herewant what is best for our soldiers. We want them to succeed.
The task force found glaring deficiency in training on sexual assault issues. Is that the root of the problem? I will ask you, Mr. Secretary, and I will ask Ellen also from the DOD perspective.
Is that the root of the problem, the training about sexual assault issues? Or if not, what is the most significant problem identified in your report, in your opinion?
Secretary BROWN. Army first?
Ms. SANCHEZ. Whichever.
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Secretary BROWN. All of the initial entry soldiers receive training in sexual assault. I do not believe that that is the root of the problem in that regard.
Ms. SANCHEZ. So what is the most important problem, Mr. Secretary?
Secretary BROWN. The issue of how leaders handle allegations of sexual assault and their preparation for doing so. I think that is an area where we do need to have additional training. And that was one of the findings of the task force report, that this training needs to be incorporated in leadership training because some of the problems that we have heard surfaced resulted from inappropriate action taken by command.
And so we need to fix that. Let's face it. I mean, sexual assault is a crime. Soldiers are made aware of that. They are made to understand that.
They are told what sexual assault is. They are told what their rights are.
So nevertheless, these crimes happen. Leaders have to know how to handle the situation when it comes to their attention. And that is where training is needed.
The victim advocate coordinators, we intend to create those and place them in deploying Army units. They do not exist now. We think that will be a help.
We have already set in motion preparations to put that in place and train those people. I think that will be a significant contribution, a concrete step toward addressing some of these issues.
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Ms. SANCHEZ. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
And Ms. Embrey? Or Mr. Secretary?
Dr. CHU. Let me invite Ms. Embrey to answer your question of which is the most important problem first and then I will offer my views, if I may.
Ms. EMBREY. I think this is a multifaceted series of problems because you have the most important finding from the perspective of a victim is that we are not well organized to support the victim. Our capabilities exist inherently in the stovepipe functions. But they do not work together as a team to focus on a victim's need from the point of report to the point of their long-term recovery.
That is one of the most important findings. But there are other findings as well.
And one is that the department as a whole has focused on the evolution of how we deal with the sexual behavior continuum, from sex discrimination to sexual harassment to sexual misconduct to indecent assault to sexual assault. There are many, many terms, many different ways to describe behaviors along that continuum.
And it is very confusing to everyone where that behavior falls in, in terms of crime. And that is where the education is needed.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC People need clarity. They need to understand what they do and the consequences of what they do.
These are young people. They are sexually active people. They have to know the rules. And they have to know the consequences of their behaviors.
This is something that requires ongoing training, not initial entry. It requires ongoing emphasis and training, both for the force, as well as the leaders, because the leaders are the ones that emphasize and sustain the climate in a positive way. And that is what I think is most important about this report.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Mr. Secretary.
Dr. CHU. I agree with Ms. Embrey that it would be ineffective for us to pick a single aspect and say it is the most significant problem. There are a series of problems here.
Certainly, there is a set that is more important than the others. And among them, like Ms. Embrey, I would identify how we deal with the victim as one of the more important issues that we must confront.
I would assert we do a pretty good job when it comes to a clear criminal act in following up with prosecution or other steps to deal with the perpetrator. But one of our great challenges, as I think you have all emphasized this morning, both in civil society and the military, is the reluctance of victims to come forward, for a variety of reasons. And we cannot deal with issues that are not brought to our attention or that we cannot discover through other means.
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And so creating a climate in which victims feel comfortable coming forward is one of the Secretary's principal precepts to the combatant commanders and all the way down the chain of command is one of our foremost objectives here. Throughout, I would want to underscoreand this is key to the whole training issuethat in the long term, our most important objective is prevention.
Because I think all this discussion underscores that once a crime is committed, there is a huge price paid by everyonea huge loss to the individuals involved, a huge loss to the institution. And so above all, we seek to preclude this from happening in the first place.
We are not naive about how hard that is to do. But it is our objective.
Secretary NAVAS. I think that what I would add is, like my other colleagues here have said, there is not a single issue. We in the Navy see this as a three-legged stool, where you have basically a leadership commitment that has to be there, from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and the commandant down.
And the CNO recently sent a P4Personal 4message to all the senior commanders. It is a two-page message basically emphasizing the issues about preventing and making this a leadership issue.
We have to have a system in place that deals with two issues. First is prevention and then, if prevention fails, to deal effectively with the issue. And I have spoken about those levels in my opening statement.
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And the third is a continuous vigilance and retraining and reeducation because we are a very young force in general, especially in the Marine Corps, but even in the Navy, where we have individuals working, playing, living together continuously. And this exacerbates the opportunities and the risks that we see in the civilian sector.
But among all this, it has to be a values-based concept. We need to imbue that this is not going to happen in my Navy. We are not going to do this to a shipmate. And that is a type of valuethe culture that Mike was speakingthat we need to start changing the behavior.
You change culture by changing behavior. We have done great in this country about smoking cessation. We need to start changing the behavior so that then we inculcate those values so that we can prevent these issues.
So I think that this is not a single issue that we should attack, but deal with this as a system of systems, to be able to solve this problem.
Secretary DOMINGUEZ. If I might just offer, the question about the root of the problem, I encourage you to ask to the panel that follows us. And I also encourage you to look at and have the committee ask and receive briefings from the researchers that were sponsored by the Department of Justice and the work they have done on the perpetrator and understanding this as a deeply cultural and societal problem that we also have to deal with.
And certainly as we got into it and I worked with these people, it rocked me back on my heels.
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Ms. SANCHEZ. The detainee abuse scandal looms large in everyone's mind today. Many of the abuses that we saw in those incidents were of a sexual or indecent nature.
Do you believe that the problem of sexual assault and detainee abuse by soldiers has a common root cause? And could they both stem from the same training and leadership deficiencies? And are you willing to consider whether there is a common link?
Dr. CHU. Let me speak for the department on that subject, if I may. First, I will leave it to the psychological profession to analyze whether they think there really is a common root cause. From what I know of both issues, I do not think so.
I certainly do not think it can be ascribed to leadership failures in the manner that is implied by your question. These are very different problems, very different incidence rate, very different situations. And it is a wholly different set of solutions that is necessary to deal with the detainee abuse issue from the issue we are discussing here this morning.
Ms. SANCHEZ. I am also deeply concerned that the problemthank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCHUGH. I appreciate the gentlelady. I know she and others have questions. We are going to try to do a second round. But I thought, out of courtesy to our colleagues, we would try to get some of the other members for at least some time before perhaps other duties call.
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And with thatand again, thanking the gentlelady from CaliforniaI would yield to the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Hayes. He has already left.
Dr. Gingrey, the gentleman from Georgia.
Dr. GINGREY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much. First of all, let me thank each of you, of course, for taking time out of your busy schedules to meet with us today.
Mr. Chairman, thank you of course for holding this hearing on a most important subject. I am glad that we are taking the time to look into the policies and procedures of DOD regarding the issue of sexual assault in this subcommittee. And I hope that there can be some reasonable and measurable changes.
Now I want to make one comment before I ask my question of all the panelists. I think it was stated actually by Assistant Secretary Embrey just a second ago, if I heard correctly, that our greatest need or a very important need is ongoing training. But I do not think there is any more important training than entry level.
All of you have commented on the fact that these are young people18-, 19-, 20-year oldsand certainly across all branches of the service. And they have to know, these young people coming right out of high school in many instances, maybe coming off a beer and softball team that we read about, some of the activities that might go on right here on Capitol Hill among young staffers. And they need to understand right at the very outset that this is a very serious situation that could potentially end their careers in disgrace and embarrassment and possibly even jail time. So I just want to make that comment. And you may want to address that as well.
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But my specific question was: could you comment on two specific things? First, what is your impression of the effectiveness of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, over the years, regarding this issue? And second, if there were a single policy or procedure that were changed or an additional measure added that would provide the greatest benefit and also the greatest likelihood of prevention of sexual assault, what do you think it would be?
And if maybe each of you could comment on that?
Dr. CHU. Perhaps Ms. Embrey would like to comment first because this is an issue her task force explicitly did reach a conclusion on.
Ms. EMBREY. With respect to your comment on initial training, I absolutely agree with you. I just did not think it should only be there.
With respect to the UCMJ and its ability to address the continuum of behaviors we talked about, we believe that in our view, reviewing the case files and reviewing and discussions with several commanders and others, the UCMJ has quite a depth of capability for the commanders and the legal system within the military to address this continuum. Where we felt the issue was, people did not understand the crosswalk between their behaviors and the articles that could cause them to get into trouble. So the issue is not the articles; it is how the individuals understand the relationship between their actions and those articles.
Dr. CHU. Let me, if I could sir, offer my answer and invite my colleagues to join me on the two issues you raised. First, my belief, although this is something worth looking at and your committee has directed we do so, is the UCMJ provides us plenty of authority with which to prosecute perpetrators.
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Second, to the single most important policy change we could make, in my judgment, although this is something this summit needs to confront before we make any final decision, we need to devote more essentially full-time resources to victim advocacy or victim care. I think we have often treated this as an ancillary responsibility.
This is a very difficult situation for anybody to handle. And I do think specialization pays off. And so therefore, more specialized resources devoted to it, I thinkso this is within the department's ability to carry forward, in my judgment, but does not necessarily require legislationa more specialized ability will, in the long run, help us a great deal with one of the important issues here, which is how well do we care for the victims once something happens?
And that includes this problem of, in the military, people move from one place to another. So when you move, much as the letter this morning indicated, great first response, but when you arrive at a new location, then we did not do as good a job, at least in this individual's view.
And so that is one of the things I think we have to overcome. We have to figure out a way that it is seamless. It is 24/7. It is available wherever you might be, including in an employee environment, which is a particularly challenging issue, I think you can appreciate.
Reggie, did you want to add anything?
Secretary BROWN. Well, the only comment I would make to that, I definitely agree on the utility of victim advocacy. But it should be noted that about halfa little less than half of the incidents of sexual assault involving soldiers involve victims who are not soldiers. So there may be some limits to how effective that could be with regard to those cases.
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So the good order and discipline ultimately will rule the day. And I think that is probably the single most important feature in a command, is good order and discipline in that command.
Secretary NAVAS. Sir, I think that I would wind up echoing, to a certain degree, the comments. On the UCMJ, I think the joint commission, which is a body established either by law or Presidential directive, that reviews the UCMJ periodicallyI think it is on a yearly basiswill be looking at this.
I had 33 years in the Army and now 3 years as an assistant secretary as a civilian. And I think the Uniform Code of Military Justice has served us very well because it deals with the specifics of the military system.
However, if there are some areas there that need to be looked at to bring it more in line with the current mores and modes, I think that is something that the commission will report. And obviously, the Congress has asked us to do that and we will be doing that.
On the single policy, I think that we have whatever policies that are in our purview to do. I think we have the ability to do it. One area that I think that needs further studyand we are going to be doing it in the Navyis basically creating a seamless environment between the Title 10 functions of the Department of the Navy as a whole and our individuals who are deployed out there under the combatant commanders.
Sometimes, when somebody moves, transfers from one theater to another, from a unit to another, we need to have basically a much better way of handling or handing over these cases. Now that is easier said than done because you deal then with confidentiality. You deal with the preferences of victims and all of that.
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So we have to come to grips with that. And I think that that is a challenge that we have. But I think that if we, as far as the summit, we could discuss these issues and put in place some procedures there. I think that would be very beneficial.
Secretary DOMINGUEZ. Sir, with regard to the UCMJ, I have talked to commanders and to prosecutors about it. But I think probably the most powerful thing is an anecdote that emerged from our look at Sheppard Air Force Base, which is that the sheriff of Wichita Falls is delighted when an assault that happens under his domain, outside the base, involves Air Force people that he can ship then to the commander of Sheppard Air Force base because he knows the UCMJ provides our commanders a richer menu of tools to be able to deal out some justice than he has available to him. So that is with regard to the UCMJ.
But again, we do need to look at it. And that work is ongoing. And we owe that response to you.
With regard to the single most important thing that can be done, it is to resolve this issue of the confidentiality and to create an environment where an injured person has the ability to go someplace to get help and, in the process of that, intelligence about what happened is communicated to commanders and to criminal investigators. Because it is balancing that tension between the individual and their needs and perceptions at this critical moment of their life with the need of a commander to maintain good order and discipline and the independent authority of a criminal investigator to investigate a crime wherever it occurs at their own discretion and not at the control of a commander.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That is a tough problem. And that is the most important thing, in my view, that we need to solve.
Dr. GINGREY. I thank the panel. And I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank the gentleman. Just for the record, because it did come up at our markup and it is not going to go away, the UCMJ certainly has its applicabilities with respect to the military environment. There is no, in my opinion, question about that.
But it is also a provision that, in this regard, has not really been updated in decades. And I think there is a sore need for modernization, for harmonization between those provisions, Title 18 also, as Secretary Dominguez was commenting, with respect to the need to accommodate the very real challenges faced by the victim.
And I made a commitment at full committee markup that, hopefully with the cooperation and input from the Joint Service Committee, we are going to take a hard look at that and hopefully affect that modernization and harmonization under a great deal of encouragement and leadership from the gentlelady from California, Ms. Sanchez. So I think it would be helpful if you folks, when you cross back over the river, perhaps helped your folks on the Joint Services Committee recognize that we are awful serious about this. So thank you for that.
And with that, I would yield to the gentleladythe other gentleladyfrom California, Ms. Tauscher.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. TAUSCHER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to talk about the anachronistic Article 120 and the missed opportunity that we had recently to replace that with Title 18 of the Federal law.
I think we all understand that the military is a microcosm of society. And Ms. Embrey, I was very impressed by your eloquence about this kind of spectrum continuum of what is sexual harassment versus what is a violent sexual assault and how people really understand it.
But I really believe that your idea of a summit is something that is long in coming. And what I hope that we can get a guarantee from you, Dr. Chu, today is that this summit will not be the new study, that it will not be the new thing we call the thing that never comes to an end, the thing that does not settle this once and for all.
And what I would like also is a commitment from you that this will be a DOD-wide change. I think that we live in a joint world; we all know that.
The idea that we are going to have stovepipe solutions is not going to solve the problem for our military. And frankly, I think we have to take a lesson from societies past and give the military credit for what it did to end segregation in this country and what it is working to do to end spousal abuse in this country, in its own small way.
And I think what we also need to do and what I have not heard anybody really talk about is: what do we say in our recruiting to young men and women? What do we say to them when we are recruiting them about the value of our military, the value of our society of men and women, what the repercussions for this kind of activity are?
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You know, when I go around the world and see these young men and women, they look just like people that I see at home that are going to college and junior college. And they have many of the same raging hormones. And add a little alcohol and that is a combustible scenario that is very, very predictable.
And for some people, I know that there are young men and women who engage in what can be lawfully concluded to be sexual assault that cannot even believe it themselves. I know that there are young men that will live for the rest of their lives knowing that they have not only committed a crime that has ruined their lives, but they have done something desperately wrong to someone that they were meant to not only protect and honor, but with a colleague of theirs, and that they did this under the United States flag.
And I think the confusion that we have in society can help be amended and mitigated by the military aggressively in their recruiting, talking about this among many other things that we talk about. And I hope that part of this opportunity to do a summit will do a number of things.
First and foremost, this needs to be a complete DOD climate change, policy change. This needs to secondarily be from soup to nuts. And it needs to be not only talking clearly through and down to combatant commanders, but really making sure that we are setting forth this as an articulation of our values, but also a clear warning for what this behavior will do, both for men and women.
But Dr. Chu, if you could, for just a second, talk about the opportunity for your side of the fence to talk about this finally getting rid of Article 120, which I think has created more problems for the adjudication and the successful treatment of people that have had these assaults, with the opportunity to take Title 18 on. I do not know if you knew that we were basically told that DOD really just did not want to do it right now.
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And we have a commitment from the chairman to work in the next bill. But just look at the statistics. How many more women and how many more young men have to have their lives scarred because we just could not quite get to it this year?
So if you would comment on that, I would appreciate it.
Dr. CHU. I think that I would like to take on the presumption behind the last part of your question, which is that somehow we fail to prosecute or go after wrongdoing because of any limitations in the UCMJ, Article 120 or any other article. I do not think that is actually true.
I think as Mr. Dominguez' anecdote from Texas illustrates, we actually are more vigorous and we have more tools at our disposal. And we are committed to going after wrongdoing.
At the same time, we respect the committee's mark in this year's bill. The department is prepared, if that indeed is the Congress's desire to undertake this review. And we are interested ourselves in looking at this issue in any event.
So we hear Chairman McHugh's injunction to emphasize to the Congress in this matter and your interest and your colleagues' interest. And we will undertake a serious review of this matter, in my estimation.
I do welcome your support for our summit. We see it in terms very similar to the way you see it. It is the opportunity to create a joint approach.
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That does not mean that it will be carried out in exactly the same way because the environment on a ship is different from the environment, as Ms. Sanchez emphasized, in the field in Iraq. You have a different set of problems on your hands. You are going to have to tailor the solutions to deal with those problems effectively.
But we cannot have different policies about confidentiality across the department. We have to have a common approach to these things. We have to have common standardsas you have eloquently described, ma'amas to what behavior we expect from our young people.
And we recognize the challenge that you are collectively sending for us. We all acknowledge this is a societal issue. We are part of that larger society.
But we aim to set a higher standard here. And that is our agenda. We have done it with drugs in the military. It did take a period of time.
And that is one thing I would plead, back to I think Dr. Snyder's question about statutory action, is that we recognize it will take time if we are going to do it differently from the way society as a whole handles these things. And to set a standard and provide leadership on the issue for the American public, it will take time to get there.
As my colleagues emphasized, these are cultural changes. And those require determination. I think we have that determination.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC They require the commitment of leadership. I think we have that commitment. But they also do require time to be effective.
As Ms. Embrey emphasized in her remarks, it is not just training once at the entry level. It is training and retraining, reminding people what the standard is, especially when they go to different circumstances.
And that is a problem in the military because they go to different parts of the world. And while I do not want to in any way slander any particular nation, there are different cultural attitudes in different parts of the world on a number of these issues.
And we will have to remind people, ''Just because you are in country X and the environment is different does not mean that we behave differently here. We behave the same way you would behave at home.''
Ms. TAUSCHER. Mr. Chairman, thank you for your time.
Gentleman and lady, I applaud you. I know Secretary Brown from the Board of Visitors of West Point. Secretary Dominguez has come in to see me.
I know that each and every one of you did not necessarily come to this part of your work with a lot of experience. I am glad to hear that all of you have passionately embraced the opportunity to lead on this.
This is a very, very sensitive, troubling environment. People do not like to think about this. They do not like to talk about it. And for that reason, there are tremendous barriers of entry for people to be able to find appropriate ways to acknowledge that this is the dark side of human nature.
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We have to deal with it in a very forceful way at the same time, however. As much as we are disinclined to spend time thinking about it and to really understand it, I appreciate the fact that all of you have vigorously worked to do as much as you can.
But time is of utmost importance. I think that our chairman's comments about the chilling effect on young women around this country and their families about the opportunity to serve in the military is something that we probably cannot articulate. We probably do not understand what it is.
But we cannot afford to have it be anything that diminishes the opportunity for young women to serve in the finest military in the world.
So I look forward to hopefully helping and working with you on the summit. If I could just say, Ms. Sanchez has done a tremendous amount of work. And I would also like, Mr. Chairman, to be able to submit for the record Congresswoman Slaughter's statement and some other work that the Women's Caucus has done.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Slaughter can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Without objection, that will be so ordered.
Ms. TAUSCHER. Thank you. And I know that this is something that you are all committed to doing. I just think that we need to redouble our efforts and make sure that this summit ends itnot for good, but at least ends this sense that we are just studying all this to death.
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Mr. MCHUGH. Thank the gentlelady.
Go back to Dr. Snyder.
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Chu, following up on what Ms. Tauscher was talking about there with regard to the summit, and you envision, Ms. Embrey, a weeklong experience of getting the decisionmakers together. And that all sounds very productive.
And then Dr. Chu, you made a comment that we could only make the decision unless some of the decisionmakers were not there. But it is possible, is it notI mean, there is no reason the joint chiefs could not come? If you have the decisionmakers there, they are all within the department somewhere, except for legislation.
Will that not be a sign of commitment to getting this problem done if we have the decisionmakers there at the summit and that you do not have to go outside the room and put things off because certain people did not attend?
Dr. CHU. I did not mean to suggest by that we are trying to avoid decisions.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. SNYDER. No, no. I am not implying that. What I did hear you saying is you might not be able to get everybody there.
Dr. CHU. I think we will have all the appropriate people there. However, for example, should it involve a different cabinet or department or something like that, it may not be our decision to make.
Dr. SNYDER. Right.
Dr. CHU. And so I just want to emphasize that if the summit reaches a conclusion, it may take a series of administrative steps to get it approved and put into the kind of directive or the kind of vehicle that will ensure its intent is carried out. That is the only import of my comment.
Dr. SNYDER. I understand. But there is nothing to prevent Secretary Rumsfeld and the joint chiefs from attending this summit or participating?
Dr. CHU. No, there is not.
Dr. SNYDER. Ms. Embrey, I want to ask you about this issue of harassment versus assault. And I thought it was interesting, I think in the Army's statement, I think they talk about the same thing you do, which is: pretty good policies for harassment.
It has been going on awhile. Seemed to make good progress. But that has not followed with assault, which I think is interesting because to me the harassment anecdotes that occur are, I would think, would be more confusing. And I am going to illustrate that by way of an anecdote that happened to me personally, if I might.
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As Members of Congress, we all come in and we have staffs of 15 to 20 people. And a lot of us are not used to managing people.
And several years ago, I had an experience with a young women who worked in my office. And I will not divulge who this is. But we had another Member of Congress, a male, who had been flirtatious with her and, at one point, came in my office and did the thing that we perhaps did in fourth grade, but gave up shortly thereafter, which is pointed to something on the wall and, as she looked at the wall, leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.
Now I knew that was not sexual assault. I do not think there was any crime there. But it was certainly juvenile and inappropriate behavior.
But I had some confusion about what to do about that. And I had to go talk to people and figure out how to respond to that.
If my employee, the same woman, had come in the next morning or the day before and said, ''I was at a club last night and was raped,'' I may not know what to do, but I would know immediately I had to do something.
And so as I was reading through your report and the Army's report, I do not have a clear understanding why we are doing so well with harassment and not so well with assault, when I would think that there would be blurrier lines in harassment.
Ms. EMBREY. This is my personal opinion, but it gets back to a lack of clarity about how the behaviors relate to what is a crime and what is inappropriate. It is the same thing, when you are being trained and given awareness training on sexual misconduct, what does that mean? And how does that differ from sexual abuse or indecent assault or sexual trauma or sexual violence?
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We have all these terms in play without a description of the behaviors that go along with it. And I think, in the case of the scenario you mentioned, that was an unrequested, nonconsensual kiss, which could be I think classified as indecent assault.
But would the person press charges? Probably not. Probably see that as the extreme end of sexual harassment.
But that is why this summit is very important. We need to draw the line very clearly on what is inappropriate, what we want to control and how and through what system we intend to prosecute.
Because harassment is about a climate. It is about attitudes toward women and men in the workforce.
And assault is different. It is a crime. And in our training programs, our training tends to say we are trying to manage the climate in a productive, useful way that reinforces our values of respect and dignity.
We assume that people understand that a crime, a sex crime, is something they should not do. We do not feel we have to train people on that.
Our issue with training is understanding what those behaviors are now. We understand that we need to do that. And we also need to help people understand that when it occurs, why it is important for them to react appropriately and to provide appropriate support, not only for the victim, but in prosecuting.
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Dr. CHU. Dr. Snyder, if I may, I just want to be sure on the record that I emphasize that the best data that we have available suggests that the department has made progress on both issues, both harassment and assault. What the report points to is that our training has not particularly focused on assault for just the reasons Ms. Embrey has indicated. And we think that is something we now need to do.
Dr. SNYDER. As I read your reports, you feel much more comfortable with the progress you have made on policies and responsiveness on the harassment side and not so good on the other.
Dr. CHU. Yes.
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you for your time.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your indulgence.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank the gentleman.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You know, if we had Title 18, we would not have such a lack of clarity. People might understand better what date rape is or intoxication with respect to what is going on.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And so again, I would thank the chairman for understanding the importance of updating our Article 120. And I did not just pull that issue out of the air. I am not even an attorney.
But I did consult with a lot of attorneys, including my sister, who happened to practice in that area of law and is also a Member of Congress. It is interesting because I go around and I talk to the troops and I go to all different areas in the world.
I was just out in Asia, in Korea and in Hawaii. And this was a big topic of conversation for me when I met with people.
And I will have to tell you that I was sitting around in a group of retired and current Judge Advocate General (JAG) types, all lawyers, men. And we were discussing my bill because they brought it up. And they thought it was a great idea.
These are practicing people, using Article 120 today. And when I told them the reluctance of this department to really take a look at that, one of the guys said, ''Well, if Article 120 is so great, why doesn't the Congress adopt it in place of Title 18?'' To which case, everybody started laughing in that room.
And not just laughing once; that lasted about 10 minutes. That was an indication to me about what people using Article 120 really believe. So I hope that we will get to that over the course of the year.
But let's talk about the recommendations contained in the Army report in particular. I am very interested in them.
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Because of course, you found glaring gaps in training. So I have very specific questions for you, Mr. Brown. I want to know: what is the timeline for implementing the new lesson plans in Army schools?
And again, I am not picking on you because you happen to be the Army. I am picking on you because the largest group of people facing the issue in Iraq right now is the Army.
What is the timeline for implementing the new lesson plans in Army schools? When will the training support packages be delivered to Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and professional military education courses?
When will training support packages be delivered to the field for refresher, human relations and pre-deployment training at the unit level? And I will say that the Marines deployed to Iraq deployed victim advocates with the force deployed to Iraq for OIF 2. I want to know: will the Army deploy advocatesvictim advocatesin OIF 2.5 and 3?
Secretary BROWN. You want me to answer all those questions right now?
Ms. SANCHEZ. Yes, please. [Laughter.]
I mean, this is about how do we get it done in Iraq today?
Secretary BROWN. I cannot give you an exact timeline at this point. Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is still developing those packages. But I will take it for the record and I will get back to you with a precise answer after I have consulted with TRADOC.
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Ms. SANCHEZ. Thank you, Mr. Brown.
Do I have time for one more question?
Dr. SNYDER. Would you yield for a moment?
Ms. SANCHEZ. Yes, of course.
Dr. SNYDER. Mr. Secretary, with Congresswoman Sanchez' indulgence, we have bad luck on this committee when people say ''for the record.'' What would be your date you will have that information back to Ms. Sanchez?
Secretary BROWN. Excuse me? I am sorry?
Dr. SNYDER. We have problems when people say they take questions for the record. And to my knowledge, we have never had that problem with you. But what would be the date that you would expect that we would have that answer back for her?
Secretary BROWN. I would need at least a week. I have to talk to TRADOC and see where they are.
Dr. SNYDER. So in the one to two week range?
Secretary BROWN. Is that OK?
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Dr. SNYDER. That is all right. We go months without getting answers, so one to two weeks seems positively great.
[The information referred to can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Ms. SANCHEZ. Thank you for bringing that up, my good colleague from Arkansas.
Okay, I have one more question. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
During the Total Force hearing on March 24, 2004, I asked questions about the adequacy of our in-theater sexual assault resources with Secretary Abell. He assured me that everything was taken care of. So I have some specific questions with respect to that.
How many combat support hospitals and field hospitals are there in Iraq? And where do they have qualified rape trauma counselors?
Do they have trained personnel to perform rape kit examinations? Is emergency contraception available at all hospitals to victims of sexual assault in Iraq? I will get you a list of the questions, I think both to DOD and to the Army, because this also includes the Marines who are stationed out there now.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And if a rape results in pregnancy, can the victim receive abortion services from military hospitals in Iraq or anywhere else? In other words, I want the real specifics of what is happening in Iraq and how a woman is treated if she has been assaulted. And I think that will hit mainly to the Marines and to the Army.
So I will submit those questions to our panel because I am sure they are going to tell me what Secretary Abell did: ''Everything is taken care of, congresswoman.'' But in calling around, that was not the case.
Mr. MCHUGH. I appreciate that. I had mentioned I had another question, although the gentlelady put it far more comprehensively than I had envisioned for myself. But it should go without saying that much of the impetus behind Ms. Embrey's study and our being here today started in U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR) and what has been happening there.
And we have what clearly predicated upon Ms. Embrey's findings is a longer range department by departmentwide challenge. We do need to take immediate steps to ensure that the intolerable circumstances in the CENTCOM AOR that brought this to the forefront are addressed.
So those are critical questions. And the ranking member put it very kindly.
We have had a number of challenges getting timely responses back. We are, as all of you know, in this instance particularly, we are talking about very, very important, timely, at-the-moment issues. So your responses to the record to those questions will be critical.
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Ms. EMBREY. Could I make a general response to that, sir?
Mr. MCHUGH. Of course, please. Ms. Embrey?
Ms. EMBREY. For the record, we can get you the numbers of hospitals that are out there. But I will tell you that, as part of the task force, we went to several of the hospitals. We went to more than six in Kuwait alone.
And there were multiple clinics and hospitals that we visited when we were in Iraq. At the hospitals, there are individuals who are qualified to perform forensic rape examinations. There are OB/GYNs available.
Emergency contraceptive, as defined as birth control pills tripled up, are available. Abortions are not authorized within the Department of Defense by Department of Defense officials unless the life of the person is threatened.
With respect to qualified rape counselors available, that is not part of our force structure. However, we do have some social workers, some victim-witness assistance folks, who are trained, but not sufficiently in my view, available in theater. And some of the SAVI representatives are also available to provide support during those times.
But we will get your more detailed answers. But I wanted to give you the broad overview.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When we were there, kits were available at all those locations. And where kits were, there were qualified people to execute them.
Mr. MCHUGH. It was the gentlelady's question, so I will allow her to go first. I suspect we are going to ask the same thing, but go ahead.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Just to clarify the DOD's and this Congress's policy: rape and incest abortions are allowed overseas.
Mr. MCHUGH. Absolutely.
Ms. SANCHEZ. It is just the real question is: where are they available within the combat zone?
Ms. EMBREY. Not by military personnel.
Ms. SANCHEZ. That is incorrect. They are by military personnel. It is just that the woman has to pay for it herself.
Mr. MCHUGH. We have a disagreement as to interpretation that obviously we are not going to settle here. For the record, I concur with the gentlelady from California's assessment. And this is not something that is unfamiliar to this subcommittee or the full committee.
But let's make sure. Because I can tell you that it has been the intent of the Congressand where we have a very vigorous debate on abortionbut it was certainly the intent of the Congress, on overseas as well as domestic facilities, to provide, as we do under Medicaid, abortion services for rape and incest as well as life of the mother. So we will follow through on that.
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Ms. SANCHEZ. Yeah, we can follow through on that. But I think that is a good indication of why these services are not available because maybe people do not understand the policy of this Congress and the American people with respect to the availability and the right to the availability of having abortion services available in the case of rape and incest.
Dr. CHU. I think the import of Ms. Embrey's finding is that, in general, the medical facilities in theater are well-equipped on this issue and well-staffed on this issue. This does not mean we cannot do more. We will look at that issue.
But in her finding, from having visited the places in the field, is that in general things are in pretty good shape, consistent with Mr. Abell's testimony. If you have evidence of a location where there is a different situation, we would be pleased to receive that. And we will obviously act on that evidence.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Just to end the conversation, great, again. If we could have the answer in writing with respect to the installations in the Iraqi theater, where they are located and what is actually available there, including whether abortion services would be available to a rape victim.
I would like to see it in writing. And I would like to see it sooner, rather than later, in conjunction with what Congressman Vic Snyder said.
And it is my knowledge that this is not available in many places.
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Mr. MCHUGH. And I would certainly associate myself with the gentlelady's comments about the timeliness of this, as I stated before. There may be, as I understand it, a complicating issue with respect to host country provisions. I do not know if that comes into play or not.
But we need to know, bottom line.
The gentleman from North Carolina.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Chu, what measures are being taken to include and involve the reserve and the National Guard in the studies and the remedies discussed here today and in other times and other locations?
Dr. CHU. Sir, they are part of the training programs of the military services, as I know you appreciate. And I would invite my colleagues, particularly Mr. Brown, to speak to that issue.
In terms of standards and values, of course, we hold the reserve components in a total force to the same standards and values we would hold the active military. No different in that regard. And in terms of services we owe them when on active duty, they are owed the same support and the same assistance that we give any member of the military force as a whole.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Reggie, would you like to comment?
Secretary BROWN. Dr. Chu is exactly right. They have to receive the same sort of basic and initial entry training and professional training that all other soldiers receive.
They cannot be deployed unless they have been trained. That is the policy.
Secretary DOMINGUEZ. Sir, if I might add, in terms of the Air Force assessment, the chief of the Air Force Reserve and the director of the Air National Guard participated in that. And so they looked through their commands and assessed policies, practices, programs as it applied to the unique circumstances of the guard and reserve.
So we will have something to communicate to the committee on that subject.
Mr. HAYES. Just to make clear, I was not concerned about different standards. I just wanted to make sure that you were confident that there was a seamless approach to getting the information out, getting the remedies out and making sure that that was done.
Are victim advocates to be established on reserve component units?
Dr. CHU. Whatever victim advocate approach we decide to take in the department, we will need to embrace the reserve community as well. Obviously, their situation is sometimes a little bit different because they come from civil life to active duty. And one issue is how we are going to support that transition.
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I should emphasize on the victim advocate front that the department has in placeand in fact, I am about to sign the updated version of a directive that deals with witness and victim assistance across the board for any crime that may occur, not just crimes of sexual assault. And that does set high standards for the total force, both active and reserve.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank the gentleman.
This may be a logical place to thank the first panel. As I said earlier, taken in a vacuum, I think Ms. Embrey's report and both the DOD and the services' response is encouraging. But there is a long path between encouragement and final achievement. And I know all of you recognize that.
The questions that we submit for the record are always important. The ones we discussed today are particularly important. I again commend to you as timely a response as possible.
There will undoubtedly be other written questions. And although we think they are equally important, we will place them second amongst equals, if we may. So your response and cooperation in that would be very, very helpful.
And we look forward to working with you and continuing to collaborate with you as you go forward on what I know you understand we certainly viewand I trust you do as wellas a very critical issue. So thank you for your leadership and your efforts.
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And with that, you are free to go.
Dr. CHU. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCHUGH. Freedom, freedom. [Laughter.]
And before we adjourn for a series of votes, it probably makes some sense to ask our second panel to come forward. And we will try to place theif staff could help us to place the sign seating placards so that we get everyone in their appropriate place. And as they are making their way up, I will introduce them, assuming they are all here.
First, we have Dr. Frances Murphy, MD, under secretary for health policy coordination for the Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Murphy will be making the oral statement and will be accompanied by two colleagues who will not be submitting oral testimony, but will be there for the opportunity to respond and answer some questions.
They are: Carol O'Brien, PhD, director, Center for Sexual Trauma Services, Department of Veterans Affairs, Medical Center from Bay Pines, Florida; and Lori Katz, PhD, staff psychologist, military sexual trauma coordinator, Department of Veterans Affairs, Women's Health Clinic from Long Beach, California.
Also honored to be joined by Juliet Walters, who is the trainee director from the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence and Mr. Scott Berkowitz, who is president and founder of Rape, Assault and Incest National Network, which we have referred to on several occasions this morning as RAINN. So we do welcome you all.
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Rather than start with one and have to make you feel as though you are rushed, now that we have you seated, you are welcome to lounge around. And appreciate your patience. It is part of life in Congress. Unfortunately, you have to be subjected to it.
But we are looking forward to your testimony and are very, very appreciative of your being here today. So with that word of welcome and the promise we will be back, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, the subcommittee will stand in recess.
Mr. MCHUGH. If we could resume our seats, we might resume the hearing. Well, having been properly introduced, as we have, let me again add welcome to you.
The good news is I do not believe we will have another vote break for a fairly substantial amount of time. So perhaps we can go largely uninterrupted. You certainly have been very patient. And we appreciate that.
As I noted in my introductions, we are pleased today to have the under secretary for health policy coordination for the Veterans Health Administration, Dr. Murphy, who is attended, as I also noted, by Dr. O'Brien and Dr. Katz. So we will begin, if it meets with your approval, Dr. Murphy, with your comments.
Welcome. And I should state for the record, without objection, all of the statements submitted by the second panelist witnesses will, like the first panel's testimony, be entered into the record in their entirety. Hearing no objection, it is so ordered.
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So Dr. Murphy, welcome. We are thrilled you are here and very appreciative of your patience.
STATEMENT OF FRANCES M. MURPHY, UNDER SECRETARY FOR HEALTH POLICY COORDINATION FOR THE VETERANS' HEALTH ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Dr. MURPHY. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I am pleased to submit my testimony on the programs in the Veterans Health Administration addressing military sexual trauma. Accompanying me today, as you have noted, are Dr. Lori Katz, who is a staff psychologist and the military sexual trauma coordinator in the Long Beach VA Medical Center, and also Dr. Carol O'Brien, the director of the Center for Sexual Trauma Services in Bay Pines, Florida.
Every day, VA clinicians across the Nation care for men and women who suffer from serious physical and mental health problems of sexual harassment and sexual trauma while serving in the U.S. military. However, military sexual trauma has only recently reached the consciousness of the American public.
In 1992, Congress took important action and passed Public Law 102585, which authorized VA to provide counseling services to women veterans to overcome psychological trauma that resulted from physical assault or sexual harassment that occurred while the veteran was serving on active duty.
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In 1994, Congress amended that treatment authority to include men as well as women and made it a gender-neutral policy. And that included appropriate care for services for an injury, illness or other psychological condition that resulted from sexual trauma. And it required the coordination of care in services furnished to the veteran under this authority.
These provisions made screening of patients for sexual trauma extremely important because survivors of sexual trauma often do not seek mental health services, but present to primary care providers and other providers with a variety of physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms, such as: fatigue, muscle and joint pain, gynecologic complaints, headaches, eating disorders, anxiety, substance use disorders and depression.
VA has developed a comprehensive set of programs to address military sexual trauma. The key components of our program include awareness, education, outreach, sensitivity training, screening, diagnostic evaluations and treatments. An education program to train primary care and other practitioners about the prevalence, screening, referral and treatment for military sexual trauma is ongoing.
Video teleconferences have been aired. And written training material is available.
Most recently, in January of 2004, a veteran's health initiative, ''Continuing Medical Education and Independent Study Guide,'' was published and made available as web-based training and also in print media. We are particularly pleased with the module's quick reference guide, which is a brief synopsis in a pocket manual format to help VA clinicians and other interested health care providers better serve their patients who have experienced military sexual trauma.
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We have provided copies of this guide to you and your staffs so that you will be aware of this important training material.
Information on military sexual trauma is also included in the transition assistance program briefings provided to military servicemembers at discharge. This information is also available on a variety of websites, including the Women Veterans Health site, the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disaster (PTSD) site and a number of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) network websites.
Women can access services through their women veterans program manager at each VA facility. Veterans who receive treatment under VA sexual trauma treatment authority need not enroll in VA health care. And they receive free health care without co-payment obligations and also free outpatient pharmacy services.
VA provides military sexual treatment without payment of co-payment. That is an important benefit to this special population.
VA has established and fully implemented a reporting system to monitor screening for military sexual trauma that was implemented in March of 2002. Between March of 2002 and October of 2003, more than 2,900,000 were screened. Over 139,400 individuals were women.
Data into the fiscal year 2004 indicate that a large percentage of women veterans who seek health care from VA bear a heavy burden of sexual trauma. However, while approximately one in five women and only one in 100 men screened report that they have experienced military sexual trauma, almost half of the numbers reported are in men because of the heavy male predominance of our population.
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These statistics show that military sexual trauma is not only a women's problem in the VA patient population. VA plans to do additional detailed tracking of sexual trauma and care and treatment.
This will be a challenging project because veterans do not always report the sexual trauma early in their mental health or physical health encounters. And treatment is often coded as depression or PTSD, rather than a sexual trauma.
Focus studies, such as the evaluation of the four women veterans stress disorders treatment teams conducted in fiscal year 2002 have indicated that women veterans treated in the teams did show significant improvement, specifically for PTSD, violence and medical conditions, the overall adjustments in quality of life and the perceived impact of their illness on sexual functioning. So the bottom line is: treatments are effective.
These results are comparable to those of male veterans treated for PTSD in PTSD clinical teams. And like their male counterparts, most female veterans improve by about the fourth month of their care.
In the past, military sexual trauma was sometimes dealt with as a feminist issue. However, the information I have presented here and in my written testimony make it clear that military sexual trauma is a costly and serious public health issue.
It results in a highest cost per victim of non-fatal violent crimes in terms of chronic medical and mental health costs, work productivity losses and decreased quality of life. A recent study has demonstrated that those who are raped voluntarily ended their military careers earlier than they had intended. This results in the loss of valuable expertise and military training to the services.
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The same study showed consistent rates of rape across service areas, beginning in the Vietnam era and going forward to 2002, indicating that previous efforts have not had a measurable impact and that military sexual trauma remains a critical public health problem today. Moreover, sexual assault is associated with a high lifetime prevalence rate of major depressive disorders, substance use disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD occurs in 65 percent of men and 46 percent of women victims. What is not well recognized is that these rates are substantially higher than the 39 percent prevalence experienced by men following combat exposure.
Hearing from the men and women who have experienced sexual trauma while serving their country in the military is a mission that VA takes very seriously. We are committed to screening all patients and getting the message out that those who are suffering its consequences are not alone and, more importantly, that help and effective treatments are available from the Veterans Health Administration.
Thank you for allowing us to testify before you today and to share what VA is doing to treat veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma. Dr. Katz, Dr. O'Brien and I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Murphy can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you, Dr. Murphy. And again, to your two colleagues, we appreciate your being here as well.
Next, we have Juliet Walters, training director, National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Welcome.
STATEMENT OF JULIET WALTERS, TRAINING DIECTOR FOR THE NATIONAL CENTER ON DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE
Ms. WALTERS. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman and members, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I am Juliet Walters, training director of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, located in Austin, Texas. Many of you know Debbie Tucker, executive director of the National Center, who serves as co-chair of the Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence.
Throughout her service, she and I and other members of our staff debated the commonalities and differences in how domestic and sexual violence must be addressed in both civilian and military communities.
The Task Force Report on Care for Victims of Sexual Assault affords an opportunity similar to that of the Defense Task Force, in that it is a blueprint for action. This action must be multifaceted: a change in the military culture that will prevent sexual assault and a responsive system that seeks to intervene when it does occur.
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Based on national statistics on sexual assault prevalence in closed institutions like colleges, we know that sexual assault will occur. Nationally, one in four women and one in 10 men are victims of sexual assault. The military, like college campuses, needs to be ready and available to respond to victims.
Attention to sexual assault in the military is refocused now due to the approximately 118 reports from victims in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. However, the advocacy community is mindful of the many years of analysis and recommendations that have preceded this hearing today.
The Care for Victims Task Force provides a chronology of those incidents and actions by Congress, DOD, researchers and advocates that sought to better address this complex issue within DOD. The work of the Care for Victims Task Force is credible, especially given the short time frame.
The findings speak to many of our concerns with the military's response to this problem. And we urge DOD to act upon the recommendations quickly.
While doing so, DOD must ask the following: how do our policies and procedures support victims? How do they create barriers or gaps? How will victims enter the system for assistance? What happens to victims at each level of our system and across systems?
Simultaneously, DOD will need to address changing a culture that tolerates sexual violence to one that condemns it. Rape is a gender-based crime that is rooted in our society's fundamental disrespect for women.
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Even when men are victimized, the male victimizer uses the same language he would use if the victim were female. It is gendered violence. And that is a hard thing to understand at first.
When we focus on the victim and her or his behavior, we support the perpetrator and allow him to continue to humiliate and control others. When we stand by while sexist jokes are told or harassment occurs, we contribute to a sexually violent atmosphere.
Currently, a victim of sexual assault in American culture learns the following: I will not be believed. I will be questioned about what I was wearing, where I was and what I was doing. People may assume that I invited the assault.
My character will be analyzed. My word is not good enough. I may be labeled as crazy, a slut or vindictive and therefore not be considered credible.
If I am male, I will likely be viewed as gay and having invited the assault. Having any social contact with the perpetrator means I have no rights over my body, even if I say no.
In the military culture, a victim may also have learned that: a male soldier's stress over being in combat can supercede my health and well-being. I will be minimized and trivialized. If I come forward, my career within the military will be compromised.
It is imperative that the military focus on culture change by educating all members of the services through training that addresses: sound, easily understood legal definitions of sexual assault and consent; use of appropriate language, such as stranger/non-stranger rape versus acquaintance rape or date rape; awareness of the fact that the vast majority of sexual assaults are planned and committed by non-strangers; encouraging alcohol and drug use is often a premeditated act by a perpetrator and is a risk factor for assault; refusing to be a bystander to violence and becoming an ally.
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Training will also be needed for command, law enforcement, JAGs, chaplains, victim-witness coordinators, victim advocates and medical personnel to create a response system that meets the needs of victims.
Under the current response, too many victims who do not officially report the crime receive very limited services or no services at all. Even victims who do report may be dropped from assistance if no criminal case is pursued. All victims need medical and emotional support throughout the lengthy healing process, regardless of whether the offender is facing a criminal action.
And too often, when the offender is facing a criminal investigation, there is an undue burden placed on the victim's testimony along with inadequate gathering of forensic and other evidence.
A common attitudethat sexual assault allegations are falsely madeimpacts the tenor of investigations and the disposition of cases. In fact, less than four percent of felony allegations of crime, including sexual assault, are ultimately discovered to be unfounded.
The intersection of the needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence is most pronounced in recommendation 4.2 on page 49 of the task force's April 2004 report: ''provide confidential disclosure.'' While there is tension around the commanders' need to know for accountability purposes, we believe that due to a lack of privacy for victims, commanders do not find out about many incidents of violence against women and gender-based violence.
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With confidential disclosure and supportive services, it is possible that victims will actually tell commanders with more frequency and earlier, resulting in a greater capacity to collect evidence and prosecute offenders.
Congresswoman Slaughter's amendment calls for DOD to put in place comprehensive policies to prevent and respond to sexual assault by January 1, 2005. We applaud the congressional sentiment that DOD move quickly.
As DOD and the services consider the report and their own research into existing prevention and intervention approaches, the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence urges you to support a standardized approach. By collaborating across services to develop policy and training, DOD may more readily ensure consistent support to victims and increased offender accountability.
Finally, we at the National Center and other advocacy organizations committed to ending violence against women stand ready to share our experiences and support DOD. DOD must develop responsive, supportive services for victims of sexual assault and eradicate sexual predators in our military.
We need a military that understands violence against women, actively seeks to end it within the rank and file and steps up as a leader to collaborate with us. Together, we can create an America with safety, trust, respect and honor for all.
That concludes my statement. Thank you.
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[The prepared statement of Ms. Walters can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you very much, Ms. Walters.
Next we have Mr. Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of the Rape, Assault and Incest National Network, RAINN. Welcome, sir.
STATEMENT OF SCOTT BERKOWITZ, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER FOR THE RAPE, ASSAULT AND INCEST NATIONAL NETWORK (RAINN)
Mr. BERKOWITZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thanks for inviting me today.
By way of background, RAINN is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. And we founded and operate the National Sexual Assault Hotline. For the last 10 years, RAINN has worked to educate the public about sexual assaults, prevent rape, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. While most of our efforts have focused on the civilian sector, much of what we have learned about what works and what does not applies to the military as well.
Despite much study, sexual assaults in our armed forces continue. Exacerbating the problem, victims still avoid reporting attacks and most do not receive help because of legitimate confidentiality concerns.
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The just-concluded DOD task force did an excellent job compiling and gathering information and outlining the needed policy changes. And we endorse nearly all of their conclusions.
That said, we have two main concerns of the report. The first is its deferral of the decision on allowing confidential services to victims. We believe this is central to the existing problems and that, until it is addressed, we are going to make little progress on the larger crisis.
Our second concern is the process of reform and the timeline for action. While this task force has many good ideas, so did the last task force and the one before that and the 15 before that.
Someone said earlier: this is a great first step. And that is true. The problem is it is the 18th step.
So the challenge is getting these implemented. So while I have no problem with the idea of summits and more advisory councils and so forth, I think that the key thing to do is to put one very high-ranking, very stubborn person in charge and give him or her a staff and let him get going.
With that, I will summarize our recommendations. And there is more detail in my written statement. First, we have to apply a couple of lessons we have learned in the civilian world.
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The first lesson is that victims who receive prompt, qualityand this is keyconfidential crisis counseling recover more quickly and are more likely to report their attack to law enforcement. Second is that increased reporting means more prosecutions. More prosecutions means fewer sexual assaults. And well-designed education programs will lead to even fewer rapes.
In the civilian world, the total number of rapes is down by half since 1993, while the percentage of those rapes that are reported to police is up by half. Learning from these lessons, I think, could lead to similar good results in the military.
We recommend four types of immediate specialized training: first, regular comprehensive prevention education for all troops. Using social norms approaches and repetitive messaging, this should focus on risk reduction, safety strategies and personal protection, communication, understanding what rape is and is not, what to do if you or a friend is raped, how to access services and punishments for sexual assault, emphasizing the command's intolerance for any assaults within the ranks.
Second, regular comprehensive training on sexual assault prevention for military personnel who will train new and incoming troops. Civilian sexual assault experts should conduct this training, I think. And these experts should be available to provide ongoing assistance, answer questions from trainers and provide regular refresher training.
Third is chain of command training so that officers understand the problem better and are equipped with the knowledge necessary to demand compliance. And last, training for first responders on their role in the process, including: investigators, legal and medical, victim advocates and chaplains.
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We also recommend the production and distribution of training and education materials, very similar to what the task force discussed, as well as a website highlighting on-base, community-based resources. And we recommend a broad educational outreach campaign using media and print materials.
By working with civilian experts and existing resources, a program can be implemented for relatively little expense and relatively quickly. For example, several of RAINN's affiliate centers have already developed prevention and training programs in cooperation with local military bases. And these provide a great foundation to be adapted for national use.
Regarding victim services, the reality is that there is still no consistency or uniformity in the delivery of services to rape victims within each branch, much less across services. And most importantly, there is no confidentiality afforded to victims seeking help.
We have three main recommendations to better serve victims. Most importantly, that the Department of Defense partner with civilian experts to deliver confidential services to victims.
Most victims, civilian or military, are reluctant to report their attack. They are reluctant to discuss it or to seek help.
And they simply will not report their attack without a guarantee of confidentiality. That is the case in the civilian world too. And I do not see that changing any time soon.
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So as the task force acknowledges, the focus groups of victims expressed a preference to use outside sources if they are available. We know from much research that victims who do receive prompt, quality, confidential counseling return to full strength more quickly, which allows them to fulfill their military and family responsibilities.
Victims who receive confidential help are also more likely to report their attacks to law enforcement. We understand that allowing confidential services on-base is quite controversial. And rather than fighting this pointand I am afraid I do not think it is going to be solved in a week-long summitwe believe that it makes more sense to offer soldiers the off-base options that are currently available in the civilian world.
The capacity exists. We just need to hook up the soldiers with it.
Rape counseling services already exist in more than 1,100 communities across the country, many near a military installation, and are accessible 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline.
In addition to providing confidential off-base services, we urge the creation and use of deployable sexual assault response teams. And we recommend training far more victim advocates and making sure they are available in deployed units.
But as important as victim services are, they are after the fact. Congresswoman Sanchez, I believe, asked earlier: what is the core of the problem? Is it training? And I do not think it is.
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As important as training is, training can do only so much. It can help at the margins. It can teach risk reduction. It can teach safety. It can prevent people who do not quite know what they are doing and do not know it is a crime from doing it.
But the reality is that these are adults who have made it to this age, in many cases, without developing the moral guidance that stops them from committing a heinous crime. And the only thing that is going to stop that, that small percentage of the armed forces, is the credible threat of punishment right now that does not exist.
We have definitional problems. We think that we need to adopt changes like the Title 18 changes to get the civilian definitions put into law, into UCMJ. We think there are a number of changes that were advised by the Cox Report that should be implemented.
We think DOD and civilian service providers should work together to ensure the victim's return to the military system, to prosecute their offenders after receiving the off-base assistance. And DOD needs a departmentwide protocol for responding to sexual assault, including redefinition of the need to know and protections for victims similar to those in civilian court, including a rape shield and privacy protections.
They must also include sufficient investigative manpower, especially in deployed environments. Mostly, it is going to take command leadership. It is going to take commanders knowing that they are being watched, that their performance evaluations and their advancement are tied to how they handle crime within their commands.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So in summary, the problem of sexual assault is not unique to the military. And neither must the solutions be. We have to improve services on-base, through comprehensive training regimens, provide soldiers with alternative confidential off-base services, implement effective prevention programs, improve prosecution protocols and back up all these efforts with the commitment of base commanders to zero tolerance.
I appreciate your leadership on this. And I thank you for the opportunity to address you today.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Berkowitz can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you very much. Thank you all.
Mr. Berkowitz, let me start with you because I want to make sure I have a correct understanding of what I thought I heard you say and what I believe I have read. In your recognition ofand Ms. Walters mentioned this as wellthe so-called ''commander's right to know'' and the difficulty of confidentiality that poses, what I believe I heard you suggest is rather than fight that battle, structure a program that utilizes and better makes accessible thein 1,100 bases at leastexisting programs.
Is that correct?
Mr. BERKOWITZ. That is correct. I think that this is a widely held feeling that they do not want to give up that right to know. I do not think that is going to change.
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I think we could talk about it for years and we are not going to convince them to change that. So I think that, in the meantime, there has to be a workaround.
Right now, they do not know and the victims are not getting help. So let us change this system to tomorrow they still do not know, but at least victims are getting some help outside the on-base system.
Mr. MCHUGH. And you feel that that can be done? Let me tell you that I do not disagree with you. But the thing that troubles me about that is on the one hand, what we are doing is constructing a system that is intended to help victims. The system's author is the military, which at the same time is saying, ''You are not going to have confidentiality off-base.''
Would you believe them when they told you that if you go off-base, it is okay? I do not know; there is something uncertain about that.
I may not be making a whole lot of sense. And I am probably making as much sense as I said we were not going to have votes for a couple of hours.
But I guess it is what it is.
Ms. Walters, would you agree with that? Rather than fighting the battle of commander's right to know, should we utilize off-base more effectively?
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WALTERS. I think we have to really look at that, about the commander's right to know. I think my thought about that is that if we can train commanders to do an assessment quickly, as in there are many times when someone will come to a system, an institution and because of the assessment that is done, they know how to refer them to appropriate services.
So I think maybe if we can think of it as a way of training commanders to do an assessment to identify that this is a sexual assault, without going intolike we do with child sexual abuse cases. In communities that have organizations to support the investigation of a child sexual abuse, what happens is maybe there is a report that comes to the police and they go, ''Okay, we have enough information to identify that a crime occurred.''
But now we take that into a system where it is comprehensive so that the person is not reporting to 10 million people, repeating the story over and over again, but it is kind of triage. And I think if we create a model where the command can identify, if one of the entry points is that they go to command, then we identify how they triage that victim to the appropriate services, whether it is legal, medical, whatever.
So there is not a lot of maybe detail about what happened because there has to be an investigation or that the medical community responds to it also. So not necessarily that they do not talk to command, but when they come to command as an entry point, how does that commander do an assessment to correctly and accurately and quickly provide them with the direction in which to go to get help?
I think that is how I would think about it, like how they respond to child sexual abuse. That is just the thought that comes to my mind with it.
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Mr. BERKOWITZ. If I could add one point in there?
Mr. MCHUGH. Please, Mr. Berkowitz.
Mr. BERKOWITZ. I draw a distinction between reporting for purposes of prosecution and talking to someone for purposes of counseling. The prosecution certainly has to stay within the command structure. And the goal of the counseling, as we are proposing it, the goal of getting them help off-base is to get more victims to use that on-base, that command prosecution, because certainly the ultimate goal is to prosecute all cases.
Right now, victims will not report to command. And they will not access on-base services, counseling services, because doing so means engaging the command structure and reporting whether or not they want to.
So if we can get them help off-base, at least that gets them going. That gets them over the initial crisis. And according to the University of Illinois and a number of other studies, those who do get that initial crisis counseling are then far more likely to go back to police or justice authorities; on-base authorities, in this case.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you very much, both. And let me ask Dr. Murphy or any of her two colleagues: as you have looked at this issue and encounteredlet's stick with the women for the momentwomen victims, what have you discerned to be the number one challenge? Is it the issue of confidentiality or the lack thereof or some other problem that needs to be addressed?
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Dr. MURPHY. I guess my personal opinion would be that the biggest challenge is trying to figure out what effective programs can be put in place to prevent sexual attacks and military sexual trauma and harassment. From a purely health standpoint, the disability and the impact of these events on people's lives lead me to believe that until we develop effective prevention mechanisms, we are never going to get ahead of this problem.
The Department of Veterans Affairs does not have a position on this. But clearly, in every other realm, privacy and medical confidentiality for treatment should be allowed for every individual. And I personally do not see why the medical treatments and counseling could not be kept confidential, even if the commander was informed that an episode had occurred.
And I would ask my clinical colleagues to comment.
Dr. O'BRIEN. The victims who I work with rarely mention the issue of confidentiality as a primary barrier to their reporting. They are much more likely to tell me that they avoid reporting because of what they perceive to be the reaction of especially, their superiors.
They believe that if they report the sexual assault, that they will be seen as the problem.
Mr. MCHUGH. So a cultural issue, really?
Dr. O'BRIEN. Yes, exactly.
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Mr. MCHUGH. Dr. Katz.
Dr. KATZ. It is also particularly problematic when the perpetrator is the commander.
Mr. MCHUGH. I can only imagine.
Dr. KATZ. And that is not uncommon.
Mr. MCHUGH. Well, again, I apologize. I was misinformed as to the vote schedule. We have two votes. So my crystal ball is not working real well, but it will probably be about 20 minutes, I would guess, or so.
So I apologize. But we are very anxious to go to our colleagues and hear your comments to some of their questions. So if you could stay with us just a bit longer.
Thank you. We will stand in recess.
Mr. MCHUGH. Why don't we resume? I will make no predictions about anything.
I am happy toand I know you were all in the audience, but it bears repeatingto yield to the gentlelady from California, Ms. Sanchez, who has been very, very concerned and very, very active in assisting those of us who are probably not as informed about these issues as perhaps we would be or should beand we will be, I assure you. But we have appreciated her leadership. So with that, I would be happy to yield to the gentlelady.
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Ms. SANCHEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And again, thank you for holding this hearing and thank you for having in particular some of the civilian population come before us and talk to us about how they view this issue in the real world versus what is going on in the military. I actually have two lines of questioning or actually just amplification that I want to get your opinions on, because I think it is important for our chairman to hear and to get this on the record.
And the two areas of interest to me are underreporting and confidentiality because I think those are two very, very important issues. Can you talk to us and sort of us give us some indication of what you think underreporting looks like in the civilian world in the United States and why that might happen and maybe how you try to figure it out? If you are given a percentage, what is not being reported or what have you and why that might be?
And then your personal opinions, now having looked a little bit at these military task force reportings and the last 15 years' worth, of how we would gauge the military underreporting to what is going on in the civilian world? That would be my first line of questioning, more for our own education up here.
Anybody can answer, anybody who has an opinion on this.
Mr. BERKOWITZ. The reporting rate in the civilian world, the data are a little bit unclear. But it seems to be going up. It seems in the last three or four years in particular that there has been a very significant improvement in the reporting rate.
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Traditionally, it has been about 3 in 10 report. The 2002 National Crime Victimization Survey had that number up to 54 percent reporting. A lot of the statisticians believe that might be an aberration because of the small sample size.
So if you take the average of the last 3 years, we are still at about 46 percent, which is up by about half from the traditional rate. The most common reason for not reportingthe two most commonare that it is personal and they are embarrassed, in some sense. They just sort of want to hide; they want to keep it a secret. They do not want everyone to know about it.
And the other is that they do not think that there is much point to it. Rapes by strangers tend to be reported to police at a much higher rate than non-stranger rapes for the good reason that there is a lot better chance of prosecution. Non-stranger rapes are still very difficult to prosecute.
So it is a challenge convincing those people to come forward and to report.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Can you contrast that in any way or think about that toward the situation that you have read about or seen with respect to the military? And what would be your inclination? I know it is not statistical.
Mr. BERKOWITZ. That anecdotally, it seems that reporting is even a bigger problem in the military. Because you have all the problems and all the drawbacks of the civilian world, but you add to that the fact that reporting means everyone knows, from your bunkmates, your best friends, your boss, his boss and everyone around you.
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We can try some policies to keep that a secret, so that fewer people within a chain of command need to know. But the reality is on most bases that you are going to have to inform 15 people once you report, between the investigators, the medical, the chain of command.
And once that many people know, there is not really a way to keep it confidential or keep it quiet. So the word gets out very quickly.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Anybody else on the panel have a comment?
Ms. WALTERS. I know that with underreporting in the civilian world, one of the reasons that someone will report and not necessarily to law enforcement, but maybe to medical like go to a hospital, is because they are concerned about medical ramifications of that, like Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)s or pregnancy or HIV/AIDS. And so they will quickly go toward getting medical care than they would toward law enforcement.
And so I think that is one thing to think about in the response is making sure that the medical community is responsive and aware, can do an accurate assessment and also refer back or support them back toward law enforcement.
The other thing about the underreporting, I think, because we know that the majority of sexual assault is by a non-stranger, and then the way the culture in society responds to sexual assault victims, especially when the perpetrator is known to the victim, really hinders a victim coming forward and speaking. Because it is much harder to talk about, ''Yeah, it was my ex-boyfriend,'' or, ''it was a co-worker,'' or, ''It was someone that is part of my team that I was hanging out with,'' because that does not fit the stereotypical rape that we all kind of wave our arms up and go, ''That was a wrong thing.''
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It was not some stranger with a hood on, hitting us over the head. And most rapes do not have a lot of external physical injuries.
So all of that plays into it. And so one, the victim has to first identify that a crime occurred. That means they have to define themselves and what happened to them as a rape or sexual assault.
And that is a mental process. And because we have a society that does not really support that and identify and is sympathetic to victims, I think all of that hinders the underreporting.
So until we get to a culture that says, ''It is not okay to take something from a woman or anybody else without their permission,'' unless we have a culture that really supports that, it is going to be hard for victims to identify that something happened to them and that it was not their fault.
And so maybe they should not talk about it and they can get past it. Because it is personal, they can get past it. And what we found working in a local program is that when victims come to a local program, we get a lot of victims, not necessarily that were raped within the last six months, but we get a lot of like childhood sexual abuse cases or they have been raped a long time ago.
And they come in because what they start to recognize is that they thought it was personal; they thought they were handling it. And it is only because they are experiencing the impact of the rape, the impact of it as it is intruding on and impacting their relationships and their quality of life, that they go, ''You know what? That is still around. And I need to go get help on it.''
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So from the time that they get raped and sometimes until the time that they actually go to get help around it may be a very long time. So all of that plays into it.
So it is not just one answer. It is a complex issue, dealing with the way that society responds to victims of sexual assault.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Thank you.
Dr. MURPHY. If I could add, one of the reasons that VA is so committed to screening in our primary care clinics and our specialty clinics is that we believe that these crimes are underreported in the military and veteran population. And many of the individuals who answer ''yes'' to the sexual trauma questionnaire have never reported it before.
Let me give you a little bit of information from the statistics we had. As I mentioned, from 2002 to the end of fiscal year 2003, we screened almost three million individuals. And of those, 33,000more than 33,000men and almost 29,000 women said yes, they had experienced sexual assault or harassment of a threatening nature while in the military.
But it is also important to recognize that while 33,000 men came forward and said ''yes'' when questioned, more than 34,000 declined to answer the question. They did not say no. They just would not answer.
And I think that is very telling. Fewer women responded that way, about 3,000. And I would like to ask my colleagues to maybe give you a couple of anecdotes about what they have learned from their clinical work.
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Dr. KATZ. Actually, this reporting issue is very important because by not reporting this, it could be a barrier to receiving proper care. I have one client, for example, a male. And for 50 years, he never reported that he was raped in the military.
And during that 50-year time, he had several consequences: health consequences, not being able to maintain employment, relationships, problems with the law. And it was not until he had a new girlfriend that really pushed him to come forward with what was going on in his life that he actually sought treatment.
But for other veterans, when they do not say this is what happened to them and why they are seeking treatment, they may receive services for some of their symptoms and some auxiliary types of manifestation that may never actually receive the treatment for the sexual trauma. And so what we found is that if people do not report spontaneously, we need to ask. And that is why we have implemented this screening.
There was one report, a national report, that said only 16 percent of people naturally will come forward and say this happened to them. And that is probablywe do not know how correct that answer is, but that gives us some guidelines.
But in the screening itself, it is also very important because some people might not feel comfortable. They have to know what is the best way to ask the question. Sometimes using words such as ''abuse'' or ''assault,'' people may say no to that because it is a very controversial word.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Who asks the questions, how it is asked, the context of the assessmentpeople may be concerned where that information is going and who is going to know about it, even in the VA system. They might have some concerns as to who is going to get that information, how is it going to impact them, where is it going on their medical chart? Is everyone going to see that? And do they feel exposed and re-traumatized by disclosing this information?
Dr. O'BRIEN. I want to add just a couple of comments. First of all, many of the victims tell us that at the time that they were sexually assaulted, they were threatened by their perpetrator, threatened with several things.
I will turn you in as a homosexual, especially for the men. And if that threat is made by a perpetrator, you can be pretty certain that the victim is not going to report.
Second of all, their lives have been threatened. We know when we look at rape victims, the primary psychological response is fear. And when someone feels frightened, the first thing they try to do is avoid the object that has caused the fear.
And so from a psychological perspective, it is pretty natural and normal for a victim to not want to report. They want to avoid it. They want to put it away. They want to go back to their room and take a shower and forget it ever happened because they do not want to deal with it.
And so we need to do some things that counteract what is, in many cases, a natural tendency. And then often times, the victims feel guilty for years and years and years for not reporting.
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They believe that they are responsible for the victimization of other men or women because they did not report. And so when we treat the victims, one of the things that we do is to go back and normalize some of those responses and let them know that the fact of not reporting is typical.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Mr. Chairman, if you will indulge me, I have the second piece to that, which is the whole issue of confidentiality. And I think this is important because, while it looks like we might have some built-in places where people can actually report and there is some confidentiality therefor example, clergy or medical or a psychologistthe fact of the matter is I think it may be difficult.
If you have a clergy that is not your denomination or what have you, you may not feel very comfortable going to them and talking to them about this. I know that sounds silly, but I remember when we were trying to find a chaplain for the House of Representatives, there was a member who said, ''I am a Baptist and I do not want to go to somebody who is going to have a white collar.''
So there is that issue. Or there is the issue of if you go to the medical establishment, that it starts getting reported all over and sent back. Or more importantly, it is not that easy to access necessarily the medical needs that you have.
I mean, you have to leave your unit to make an appointment to go somewhere to get someplace. And people somehow have to know why you are not at your station or why you are not doing that.
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And in particular, with a psychologist or a psychiatrist, it is an even more laborious process, I think, within the military situation.
So I guess my question to you is: how important is confidentiality? And knowing what you know about the military system and the task force, how do we get people to come forward and talk about this without fearing that this is going to be all over the place?
What would be your suggestion?
Dr. KATZ. One thought is how it is documented. And I think that it can be documented in a way that is very respectful to the victim without putting details of what happened, but just kind of saying in a more general sense that they experienced an incident of trauma without getting into the details. And I think that is one way that I have worked with clients to protect their confidentiality.
Dr. MURPHY. I think it is a very complex issue. And I am not sure, in this case, that the experience from a civilian population translates well into a military environment.
And I would recommend that some initial decisions get made about how to best deal with this from what we know today. But I think it is also very important for DOD to do some study and research in this area, to find what the best methods are to prevent military sexual trauma, to change the culture that currently exists that seems not to deal with this issue as well as it can be dealt with, and also to look more carefully at what risk factors exist in the military occupational environment that actually seem to facilitate harassment and traumatization.
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There is one study that has been done in women veteran populations, which was a telephone survey. And some of the things that seemed to be risk factors and predictors were if the commander, either verbally or physically, was harassing him or herself, that seemed to promote that kind of behavior and result in more trauma in that unit.
The other thing was if there were not separate living quarters. And I know that that is a very difficult issue, especially when the unit is deployed.
But we need to better understand the problem before we can develop effective solutions. And I think we need to do that. And we need to do it in a systematic way.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank the gentlelady.
The gentleman from Arkansas.
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I wanted to ask Dr. O'Brien and Dr. Katz, tell me what your roles are? Where do you work? And what is your day-to-day job?
Dr. O'BRIEN. I am the director of the Center for Sexual Trauma Services at the VA Medical Center in Bay Pines, Florida. We have a residential program for both men and women who have experienced sexual trauma during military service.
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition to that, I see outpatients, both men and women, who have experienced military sexual trauma.
Dr. KATZ. I am a clinical psychologist in the Women's Health Clinic. I see primarily women.
Actually, I have some numbers. This last 4 months, I have seen 51 women treated for individual therapy. Fifty percent of them have military sexual trauma; but 82 percent of them have significant abuse histories.
And I am the one clinician that sees these patients.
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you. Thank you for being here.
Dr. Murphy, I noticed you were here earlier today through the first panel. And we had that discussion about the statistics, about the three percent, the four percent, over a 12-month period of self-reported on these surveys.
Now the survey, you talk about one in five. And the DOD report, their task force report they sent us here says, ''Of the almost three million veterans screened between March 2002 and October 2003, approximately 20.7 percent of females and 1.2 percent of male veterans screened positive for a history of military sexual trauma.''
And that gets to the point I was trying to make. You can fool yourself a little bit by coming up with an over12 month number, when those are additive. I mean, the same four percent in 2003 is very likely not going to be the same four percent in 2004 or 2005 or 2006.
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And so it does not take very long before a significant percentage of the women have had or at least report bad experiences. Do you have any comments about those numbers?
Dr. MURPHY. I think my sense is that we still do not really have a good sense of the magnitude of the problem. Part of the issue is that our data collection systems from our screening questionnaire are relatively new. We have only been collecting this information since 2002.
But over time, the numbers have been relatively consistent with the about one in five women reporting sexual trauma and about one in 100 men. And those numbers have not changed year to year.
Now I would say that our population is very different than the survey population that DOD is dealing with because theirs is all membersa statistical sample of all membersserving in the military. And there is good reason to believe that there is some selection bias.
People who seek health care probably have a higher rate of military sexual trauma and have symptoms from that trauma and therefore, come to a health care system for treatment. So I think that if I had to predict, the actual prevalence rates are somewhere between that three or four percent that DOD is telling you they have collected and the one in five women that VA is seeing. The real population rate is probably in between someplace.
Dr. SNYDER. I wanted to ask all of you, listening this morning, was there anything that leapt out that you are just dying to correct that someone said or that you wanted to respond to or concerns you have about anything that was said in the first panel. This is your chance to provide an alternative view, if you like.
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Ms. Walters, is there anything this morning that leapt out at you?
Ms. WALTERS. I did want to say one thing. Ms. Sanchez talked a lot about the research being kind of milquetoast. And I really have a thought about that.
I think how you do research, you get certain kinds of answers. And for what they were charged with, the task force was charged with, and how they did the analysis gave them that kind of information. And I think it is valid.
However, there are other types. When I read the report, what I found missing was really the perspective of the victim. And I think that is something that we really need to talk about, is how you do research, how you do an analysis.
And one way that I think would be really helpful to get a rich idea of what the experience is like for a victim in theater or in CONUS is to really start from the place of the victim. If I was a victim in theater in Iraq, what happens next? Who do I talk to? And if I talk to that person, what happens next?
Or what information would I have to have known ahead of time to even identify that a crime had occurred, so what training happened prior to me getting there? What are the environments that kind of support or enhance the possibility of me being sexually assaulted?
If I go to command, what happens? If I go to legal, what happens? If I go to the chaplain, what happens?
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And I think that is the analysis that is missing that would give us a richer idea of what to do. I think we can have some standardized policies and procedures and values. Definitely, we want victim safety and healing. We want offender accountability.
How that is translated and actually taken care of in this particular environment may look different. But it has to be done from the perspective of a victim.
If we just look at it from a kind of global policy process, you know, we look at what is written in the policy and say, ''Okay, those are the gaps,'' we are not getting an accurate experience of what that victim is going to have to deal with there.
So from the report, I thought it was credible for what it did. But what I found missing was really: what is the experience of the victim? And I think that is something that I think you all need to be aware of and think about and consider for future work.
Dr. SNYDER. Mr. Berkowitz, any rebuttal you want to give?
Mr. BERKOWITZ. The one thing would be the sense of urgency or the lack of a sense of urgency. There is a full appreciation of the problem and the dimensions and a lot of the things we need to do to correct it, but I would like to see a greater sense of urgency as far as starting the fixing, appointing this new office that is going to oversee this.
What level is that person going to be? What authority is he going to have? What size staff is he going to have? What is his real mission, aside from overseeing these new task forces and summits and so forth?
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Dr. SNYDER. Thank you.
Dr. MURPHY. I would like to compliment Ellen Embrey and her committee on the work they did putting together this report. I believe that their recommendations are well focused.
I would only urge that this time, they make sure that whatever gets implemented actually makes a difference. We cannot have yet another report two years from now without changing this behavior, without changing the culture in DOD.
And in order to assure that, we need to make sure that there is oversight and evaluation of the outcome of the actions that are taken. I believe that we had very sincere public servants here who want to make a difference.
But we all have a responsibility to make sure that in fact the programs that are put in place are effective. I would also encourage that DOD reach out and that they work with other government agencies.
VA would like to be a partner in this. We feel that we have expertise that can be valuable. And likewise, Health and Human Services (HHS) has agencies that could be very, very valuable in providing some of the mental health and other expertise that will be necessary to actually make an impact on this process.
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Dr. SNYDER. It seems like if we are going to conclude that at some point down the line that we are still having problems and it is not working, that at a minimum, either the Congress or the administration be the one that discover it and that we do not have to read about it in a several-part series in the Denver Post because the newspaper does a better job of providing oversight than we do. I mean, that would seem like it would be a minimum thing.
Thank you all.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank the gentleman.
Let me just ask a quick question. We have talked about sexual abuse with respect to women versus men and separate statistics, et cetera.
Is it fair to state that the reasonsforgetting the numbers for the momentthe reasons both men and women fail to report are pretty similar? Confidentiality, et cetera, et cetera. Or are there distinguishing characteristics why a man does not report versus a woman? And if so, I guess that leads to separate kinds of responses.
Dr. O'BRIEN. I think that there are a lot of similarities between the reasons that male and female victims have for not reporting. I think there are some differences as well.
The fear of being labeled as homosexual and being discharged and embarrassed for men is much greater than it is for women. And the fear of having one's own sense and the sense of others regarding one's masculinity is also a much larger issue for the male victims that I treat.
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Ms. WALTERS. I think with that, I definitely agree with her. And I think with that, I think what would be important is maybe how you design the prevention programs and how you design the intervention programs in the sense of how do you message those so that both feel that they are going to be received in a non-judgmental, compassionate, supportive way?
So it may be that you might have to do some messaging that is different. But you want the results that you have a safe place for people to get help.
Dr. KATZ. I would like to add
Mr. MCHUGH. Dr. Katz.
Dr. KATZ. For men especially, I concur with Dr. O'Brien. But they might have a feeling that they will be seen as weak or cowardly. There is a stereotype that men are supposed to like sex, so what are you complaining about?
But the truth is sexual assault is not about sex. And I think that distinction needs to be made very clear. It is not about raging hormones or people getting too far or just having a good time.
Sexual assault is about power, aggression. It is violence. It is domination.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is a much different set of features that cause the arousal rather than an act of sex. This is not something when people might even have rape fantasies.
And actually, I teach at a university. I give a lecture on this. And every semester, people get confused about this. They say, ''But we have rape fantasies.''
No, when you think about that, people are actually mutually enjoying it. It is a sexual act; it is a mutual situation. But in assault, it is not mutual.
It is violence. And so when men go forward with that, because of that misinformation, they get embarrassed and they do not want to report.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you.
Ms. SANCHEZ. May I say something?
Mr. MCHUGH. The gentlelady.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Just because Ms. Walters suggested or picked up on my milquetoast comment, I just want to say that first of all, I know that the people who are running the numbers on this, on some of the milquetoast study, was at Booz Allen. And since I used to work for Booz Allen, I would say they did probably a very good job.
I do not doubt that they did a good job with the numbers that they had or with the information and data that they had. One of the biggest problemsand I mentioned it in my opening statementwas the whole issue of what kind of data we really have and what can we tell from that data.
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And I guess my milquetoast comment is more towards, you know, so now we are going to study how we get data together, so that we can look at data, so that we can study this, so that we can find some solution to the problem. Well, you know, that is another two years as far as the way things move through this.
So the study did not tell me that much more than what we had seen from other studies, I guess, is my comment toward milquetoast, not the way they sliced and diced the numbers necessarily.
And the second thing I want to say, which is very important to something that you said, Ms. Walters, was thatand I have been trying to, when we have talked to Secretary Abell and others, to ask: what happens now? If I am a woman in the Iraqi theater, where do I go? What is there available?
Or as when I spoke to Secretary Brown and asked him, ''Okay, these particular things you are going to do, have you done them? What is the timeline?''
So I think the specifics are very important. And I think it is not just important about what is available and what is the real process to go through it.
But you have to also remember at the same time, at least in the case of a woman, that it is a very difficult time in her life. So she is not necessarily even thinking straight over what has happened to her.
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I mean, some days it is just trying to get through the next hour. And you are like, some days you wish you would be dead rather than have to face what you have just gone through.
So I think as this committee takes a look at that, we have to understand that the system has to be well-known and it has to be readily available because there is a lot of trauma going on.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. WALTERS. I definitely agree. I think the whole point of trauma, remembering that someone just experienced a trauma, I think is a real important point. How do you respond to a trauma victim?
Mr. MCHUGH. I was very, I suppose, inarticulate as usual in my first question or comment about utilizing the outside systems, rather than getting into the debate about the commander's right to know. And I fully agree that in those 1,100 communitiesI believe was the statistic I heardwhere those exist, that works fine.
But it is not going to work in CENTCOM because someone who experiences this crime is not going to be able to pick up the phone and call the local parish or the Presbyterian Church if you are in Baghdad. And I do not mean that as a religious slight. Those programs are not there.
So I think we have to do both. I wish it were an avoidable issue because it is going to be very problematic, as you have noted.
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I do not see how, in a deployed situation such as we have in Afghanistan and Iraq, that the off-base services part works. So we are not going to be able to avoid that discussion and hopefully resolution totally, I am afraid.
Well, we deeply appreciate your patience and, most of all, appreciate your expertise and your opinions. The subcommittee takes to heart the comment about urgency that Mr. Berkowitz made and certainly wanted to impress that upon the first panel.
We will submit, in all likelihood, some written questions. I know you folks are awful busy. But if you could possibly set aside a few moments to respond to those, it will be very, very helpful to us.
This is an issue that we are not going to let be dropped for the 18th time. Saddam Hussein found himself in a war for 17 ignored resolutions. We are beyond that now. So we owe our soldiers and sailors and airmen no less.
So your continued support and input would be very much appreciated. So with our thanks, I will stand the committee in adjournment.
[Whereupon, at 2:55 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]