Sexual assault in the military threatens our national security. This has been a hard lesson for military leaders to learn, but thanks to significant pressure from Congress and victims’ advocates, they’re starting to get the picture.
Last month, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that sexual assault cases will now be handled by higher-ranking, more experienced officers and supervised by new Special Victims Units. These changes indicate that the Pentagon is finally interested in treating sexual assault as a serious crime rather than as lapse in professionalism or leadership. Yet access to justice for service members seriously lags behind access to justice for civilian victims. If we want to end this crisis in the ranks, much more needs to be done to ensure service members are guaranteed the same rights and judicial protections provided to civilians.This article was originally published in The Baltimore Sun.