Armed Forces News

Reports of sexual assaults against service members increased in 2018, according to the latest official statistics. Roughly 20,500 service members – 13,000 women and 7,500 men – reported sexual assaults last year, said Elizabeth Van Winkle, the Pentagon’s civilian chief of force resiliency. In 2016, 14,900 such incidents were reported. Even though officials say the figures leave them “disheartened and frustrated,” some point to the fact that persons were willing to come forward and accuse their attackers as a positive sign.
Van Winkle hailed acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan’s approval of recommendations to bolster protections for sexual-assault victims and harsher punishments for perpetrators. One major point would call for making sexual harassment a stand-alone crime.
“These actions will improve our military justice system and enhance commanders’ abilities to maintain good order and discipline in the ranks,” Van Winkle told a group of reporters at the Pentagon May 2.
The Pentagon study showed that factors such as poor unit climate and alcohol consumption were major factors in sexual-assault cases.