Stronger whistleblower protections proposed for military suffering sexual attacks

A seven-month investigative report by the San Antonio Express-News, June 1, 2013, by Karisa King and 11 other contributors showed that 60 percent of the victims of sexual assault in the military who report the incidents are routinely ignored, harassed, labeled as mentally unfit and transferred or drummed out of the force. Perpetrators are rarely even charged with a criminal offense.

Legislation is in the works to provide stronger whistleblower protection to members of the armed services suffering sexual assault. Key provisions of a law proposed in the House of Representatives by Jackie Spear of California and Mike Coffman of Colorado:

  • More disclosures of wrongdoing are protected—including those made during one’s normal job duties, in the chain of command, or regarding sexual assault and other misconduct.
  • Service members have the same shot at proving they have suffered retribution that has long been the standard for other federal employees and private sector whistleblowers.
  • Those affected have a reasonable opportunity to file a complaint (the bill extends the current 60-day statute of limitations to one year).
  • A more credible review process is put into place to streamline requests for hearings before the Board for the Correction of Military Records to correct the service record of those who suffer retaliation (currently only 19 percent take efforts to correct their records).
  • An Inspector General must take action to make a determination of retaliation, and if substantiated, the military must provide corrective relief to service member who suffered retaliation and discipline those who retaliated. (Project on Government Oversight [POGO]), June 4, 2013) -db