House Votes to Improve Sexual Assault Investigations, Increase Support to Victims
The House took two steps Wednesday to improve how the Defense Department handles sexual assault investigations.
By voice vote, the House set aside $65 million to track down people who may have been wrongly discharged for mental disorders after they reported a rape or assault, and $10 million to improve training for criminal investigators who cover sex crimes.
Both votes came on amendments to the 2014 defense appropriations bill and address problems discovered as lawmakers reviewed how sexual assault cases have been handled. The bills are sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.
Military sexual assault victims have told Congress that reporting a rape or assault can often lead to the victim being forced out of the service for a mental disorder, especially in cases where the person who attacked them is a senior person in their command.
In an amendment supported by Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel, Speier proposed — and the House agreed — to have the military identify people who reported a sexual assault and were later separated for a mental health problem, giving them a chance to have their records reviewed.
Their discharge could be amended if the record appears to show the discharge was a result of retaliation.