Sanders Statement on Military Sexual Assault Cases

WASHINGTON, March 6 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement after the Senate advanced a bill to reform the military justice system but blocked stronger legislation by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to give professional military trial lawyers the power to refer serious crimes to courts-martial:

“An estimated 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted in 2012, a 37 percent increase in just one year, according to a recent Department of Defense study. I voted for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s bill because it would give servicemen and women an independent route outside the chain of command to report serious crimes, and I am disappointed that it was defeated. I also supported a separate measure by Sen. Claire McCaskill that includes some important reforms, but remain concerned that it does not go far enough. Victims of rape and sexual assault in the military deserve a fair and independent system outside the chain of command to report these types of crimes. As chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am also working hard to make sure that veterans, who have suffered such crimes, receive the benefits they have earned and deserve.”