Walorski: We are talking about America’s sons and daughters
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This evening, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) spoke on the floor during general debate about her military sexual assault provision included in the House version of the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Based on a bipartisan bill, the proposal includes whistleblower protections for military sexual assault victims to encourage safe reporting and eradicate future incidents.
The House is scheduled to vote on the final passage of the Walorski proposal as part of the NDAA on Friday.
“Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee for yielding me time.
“I also want to thank him for his tremendous leadership in crafting a bill that pushes solutions to combat sexual violence in the Armed Forces.
“This bill includes a provision I authored with Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez to encourage victims to step out of the darkness.
“The provision specifically identifies reports of sexual assault as a form of communication under whistleblower protections.
“It ensures victims cannot face reprisal for reporting acts of sexual assault.
“Sexual violence has reached epidemic levels and it is eroding the foundations of trust and camaraderie that our proud military tradition was built.
“I had the privilege to visit our troops in Afghanistan and stand shoulder to shoulder with the finest military in the world.
“Hearing their concerns on this issue firsthand typifies the horrific reality of this situation.
“Mr. Speaker, there were an estimated 26,000 cases of military sexual assault last year alone, with only 3,600 victims reporting.
“It is reported that 62 percent of those who have been assaulted went on to experience some form of retaliation.
“Citing these facts and figures do not attest to the victims and real life faces of this problem.
“We are talking about our sons and daughters.
“We are talking about our brothers and sisters.
“In Indiana, a brave woman named Lisa Wilken, an Air Force veteran, came forward to share her own story of repetitive sexual abuse that she suffered during her military career.
“After being raped, she reported the incident to the Air Force.
“Her description of the reporting process is chilling.
“Whistleblower protections will create an environment for safe reporting so that victims, like Lisa, can come forward and demand justice.
“For the troops who have been victimized while serving their country, and the countless young Americans who someday want to serve, I ask that we do the right thing.
“It is time for this Congress to act.
“I ask my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill and the thoughtful reforms within.”