Thursday, the U.S. Senate blocked a military sexual assault bill. The bill seeks to prosecute sexual assault crimes through independent military prosecutors outside of the victim’s chain of command.
Maine Senator Susan Collins is a strong advocate for the bill. Prior to the vote, Collins spoke on the senate floor saying Congress needs to take a stand that supports victims and hold perpetrators accountable. Today local veterans from our area are weighing in on the controversial issue.
A bill on military sexual assault is dead in the Senate…but only for now say some proponent lawmakers. The bill needed 60 votes to move forward but received only 55 and was put aside for possible consideration in the future. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who drafted the legislation says it’s a big letdown for sexual assault victims.
“Tragically today the Senate failed them despite earning the support of a majority of the Senate we fell five votes short of overcoming the 60 vote filibuster threshold,” says Gillibrand. One of Senators fiercely in favor of the bill is Maine Senator Susan Collins.
“I have been sounding the alarm over the military’s ineffective response to the growing crisis of sexual assault in the military including the need to ensure the appropriate punishment for perpetrators, to provide adequate care for the survivors and to change the culture across the military so that sexual assault is unthinkable,” says Collins.
At the Hayward Frasier VFW Post 2599 in Presque Isle, veterans say they know assaults do go on in the military and more needs to be done to stop it.
Randolph Michaud is the Commander of the Hayward Frazier VFW Post 2599 and says “I think the military officers need to come to grips with this problem we have a lot of female officers, lot of noncommissioned female officers and they’re in multiple roles and its something they need to take a look at, it shouldn’t be condoned to begin with.”
Michaud says military higher ups need more education on how to properly treat victims and hold true the zero tolerance policy that exists on the books. Fifty-three Senators have publicly voiced support for the bill. Critics say the bill failed to receive enough votes because more analysis on the issue needs to be done. Collins says victims rights and plights should first place in lawmakers’ minds and on the military’s agenda.
Collins adds “how many more victims are required to suffer before we act further.”
“The gung ho type attitude is great but there’s a time and a place for that gung ho attitude works when you’re in combat but doesn’t work so much when your back in garrison,” affirms Michaud.