Jun 14 2013
Congresswoman's legislation included in Defense Authorization Bill
Washington, D.C. – Reforms authored by Rep. Kristi Noem to help prevent sexual assaults in the U.S. military were approved today by the U.S. House of Representatives. Noem’s sexual assault reform legislation was passed as part of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which cleared the House by a bipartisan vote of 315 - 108. Rep. Noem voted for the legislation, which sets funding, policy and accountability for the Armed Forces.
This bill includes sweeping reforms to sexual assault prevention and prosecution in the military. Rep. Noem successfully secured several provisions to improve military sexual assault investigations, standardize sexual assault prevention training and require the Pentagon to increase scrutiny of those selected to fill sexual assault prevention positions in the military.
“This legislation not only bolsters our national security, but also the security of our men and women serving in the military. Working on comprehensive ways to bring an end to sexual assault in the military continues to be a top priority for me,” said Rep. Noem. “This bill provides a real opportunity to put words into action and to take meaningful steps to address this growing problem. It’s time to say, once and for all, that sexual assault ends now. It is also our duty as a country, and as a Congress, to ensure our armed forces are ready and equipped for challenges that may lie ahead. This legislation provides for that.”
Rep. Noem championed three main sexual assault prevention provisions in the House version of the NDAA, all of which were included in the final version. They include:
• Improved Investigation of Sex-Related Offenses. Rep. Noem advocates a policy change that would direct the Secretary of Defense to standardize recommendations by military criminal investigative organizations as to whether a sex-related offense is founded or unfounded. This change would aim to give military commanders better information in the form of an expert opinion when proceeding with prosecuting sexual assault crimes.
• Qualifications for Sexual Assault Prevention/Support Personnel. Rep. Noem believes the Secretary of Defense should be required to establish selection criteria for individuals in sexual assault prevention related positions. Currently, there are not any specific qualifications for these positions. Changes in this specific area are all the more important in light of recently publicized instances of military personnel in sexual assault prevention/support positions being accused of a sexual offenses themselves.
• Basic Training Standards for Sexual Assault. Rep. Noem believes the Department of Defense should be directed to develop uniform training plans and materials for sexual assault prevention. Currently the individual branches of the military do their own training plans for sexual assault, highlighting the need for consistency among all branches. Rep. Noem supports a basic bar for training across all branches.
For more information about other provisions included in the bill, please click here.