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Senate Approves Amendment on Discharging Service Members Convicted of Sexual Assault

Senate Approves Amendment on Discharging Service Members Convicted of Sexual Assault

November 29, 2012 — The Senate on Wednesday approved by voice vote an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (S 3254) that would require the military to process individuals accused of sexual violence and discharge personnel who are convicted of rape or other forms of sexual assault, The Hill's "Floor Action Blog" reports.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who sponsored the measure, said about one in three service members who commit sexual assault remain in the service because there is no uniform method for handling the situation (Cox, "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 11/28).

Under current rules, service members convicted of sexual assault could be fined or reduced in rank, but not necessarily dismissed. The amendment would require the military to discharge convicted personnel even if their sentence does not call for a punitive dismissal.

Other Sexual Assault Measures Pending

Several pending amendments to the bill also address sexual assault, the Air Force Times reports.

An amendment introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) would require that charges related to sexual assault be addressed through courts-martial, rather than nonjudicial punishment.

Another amendment by Klobuchar calls for the military to review the personnel records of anyone who has been accused of sexual assault to determine if he or she has been convicted of a similar crime through a court-martial or nonjudicial punishment. Klobuchar also has proposed an amendment that would require the military to retain restricted incident reports on sexual assault allegations for at least 50 years.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) sponsored an amendment that aims to make it easier for sexual assault survivors to qualify for disability compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder. Under the amendment, a veteran could qualify by submitting a written statement about the crime, accompanied by a statement from a mental health professional that the disability is consistent with the veteran's account and military service (Maze, Air Force Times, 11/28).