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(November 12, 2013, Senator Shaheen discusses the issue of military sexual assault with the New Hampshire National Guard, New Hampshire law enforcement, and domestic and sexual violence experts at UNH Manchester roundtable)

(Manchester, NH) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) hosted the New Hampshire National Guard, New Hampshire law enforcement, and domestic and sexual violence experts this morning at University of New Hampshire Manchester for a roundtable discussion on best practices to effectively address the military sexual assault crisis.  At the roundtable, Shaheen underscored the need to implement reforms to the military justice system immediately in order to better protect sexual assault survivors.

“Sexual assault cannot be tolerated anywhere and it has no place within the ranks of our armed services,” Shaheen said.  “We have to end the gross prevalence of sexual assault within in our military and we need to do so now.”

According to the Pentagon’s FY2012 Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) report, an estimated 26,000 cases of sexual assault occurred in FY2012, a 37 percent increase from FY2011.  Another report released by the Defense Department earlier this year showed that more than 1 in 5 female servicemembers reported experiencing unwanted sexual contact while serving in the military.

Shaheen added, “Protecting our men and women in uniform must be one of our top priorities. There is serious bipartisan support for our efforts to address this crisis and that support underscores the urgent need to immediately reform the military justice system.”

Senator Shaheen has been a leader in the fight against military sexual assault and has worked with a bipartisan coalition of senators to introduce legislation to improve the investigation of incidences of sexual assault and reform the military chain of command for sexual assault cases.  Earlier this year, Shaheen’s legislation reforming the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response officers program was included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed the Senate Armed Services Committee.  The full Senate is expected to consider the NDAA and legislation to improve the military justice system as early as this week.