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Rep. Watson Coleman Celebrates Passage of Her Amendment to Improve DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Programs

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) addresses Congress regarding sexual abuse in the military. Credits: C-Span

WASHINGTON, DC - Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman today celebrated the passage of her amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring the Department of Defense (DOD) to implement critical changes to the Army National Guard and Army Reserve's sexual assault prevention and response programs in areas such as staffing, budget management, and investigation timeliness.

“I am pleased that we have taken the necessary steps to help foster a system that encourages service members to seek adequate help and care in the event of a sexual assault,” said Watson Coleman.

“Congress has a responsibility to protect the service members who make immeasurable sacrifices to serve and protect our country. Sexual violence is criminal behavior that has no place in our military, and we must regain the trust of the service members who have been brave enough to come forward to report these crimes by bettering our military justice system.”

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More than 500,000 members currently serve in the Army Guard and Reserve. The Department of Defense has taken steps to address sexual assaults of service members, generally, but reports show that sexual harassment in the military is widely underreported. The amendment directs the Secretary of the Army, in coordination with the Chiefs of the National Guard Bureau and the Army Reserve to develop and implement an expedited, thorough and confidential process for sexual assault victims, redistribute staffing resources to ensure timely processing of cases and ensure the efficient use of taxpayer dollars for programming needs.

The passage of NDAA for fiscal year 2018 also included two additional amendments proposed by Watson Coleman. The first affirming Congressional support for the nondiscrimination policy of the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, as applied to female cadets, staff, and faculty and the second extending reporting requirements for diversity inclusion in military leadership – a requirement set to expire this year. Watch Rep. Watson Coleman's floor remarks here.

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