Rep. Lipinski's Proposal to Provide Appropriate Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault in the Military Included in Defense Bill

A proposal introduced by Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-3) to provide better aid to victims of sexual assault in the military was included in the final version of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was approved last night in the House by a 350-69 vote. Lipinski’s provision will require the military to provide professionally trained sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) to assist in assault investigations and offer specialized medical treatment and care to victims.

“Making specialized care available in the aftermath of these terrible crimes is a commonsense measure that I hope empowers victims of sexual assault to come forward and increases the likelihood their offenders receive the punishment they deserve,” Rep. Lipinski said. “We have the best military in the world, but the large number of sexual assaults is absolutely unacceptable. Providing trained sexual assault nurse examiners is one positive change that will help victims and hopefully lead to fewer assaults.” 

In May, Rep. Lipinski introduced the SANE Deployment Act, H.R. 1986, to require the military for the first time to provide professionally trained sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE).The bill was incorporated as an amendment to the House version of the NDAA, eventually becoming a provision in the compromise legislation developed by the House and Senate.

Influenced by Rep. Lipinski’s bill, the NDAA requires the Department of Defense to make available a qualified SANE to collect evidence during the early critical stages of a sexual assault investigation and provide the appropriate physical and mental care necessary for victims. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of sexual assaults within the ranks of the armed forces by bringing more offenders to justice and deterring others from committing similar crimes.

The NDAA likely will be up for consideration in the Senate next week.

The Pentagon earlier this year estimated that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted in 2012, up from an estimated 19,000 in 2011. Less than 10 percent of reported cases ended with a court martial conviction, with the majority of those resulting in administrative punishment and dismissal. An anonymous survey of military personnel found that thousands more were unwilling to come forward to report the crimes committed against them.