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Sen. Toomey Cosponsors Amendments Addressing Sexual Harassment And Assault In Armed Forces

Amendments address prevention, response and reporting

Thursday, Nov 29

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) has cosponsored two bipartisan amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act that would help prevent sexual harassment and assault in our armed forces.

The first amendment would require the Defense Department to develop a comprehensive policy to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in the armed forces. The second would enhance the DoD's annual report on sexual assaults, requiring the department to include in the report the types of disciplinary or administrative sanctions imposed.

Both amendments were filed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3254), currently pending on the Senate floor.

"I strongly support these two amendments, which would help ensure our armed forces are protecting our service members from sexual harassment and assault, and are responding promptly and appropriately. I have already introduced legislation to address sexual assault in Veterans Affairs facilities, and we must do more to ensure the safety and protection of our service members and veterans," Sen. Toomey said.

Sen. Toomey introduced the Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention Act (S. 1689) in October 2011 that would protect Veterans Affairs facility patients from sexual assault.

A June 2011 Government Accountability Office Report found serious lapses in the reporting of sexual assault in VA facilities, due, in part, to the lack of clear definitions, requirements and a central database for collecting and storing reports of assault.

The Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention Act would address these and other issues found in the GAO report by providing a new standard of care and protection for patients at VA facilities in Pennsylvania and across the country. Similar to legislation that received strong bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, Sen. Toomey's bill would mandate a comprehensive VA policy that must include the following:

• Reporting and tracking sexual assaults at each VA facility

• Tools to assess the risk of individual veterans

• Mandatory security training

• Physical security precautions (surveillance cameras and panic alarm systems)

• Criteria and guidance for employees communicating and reporting incidents to specified supervisory personnel, VA law enforcement officials and the VA Office of Inspector General

• An oversight system within the Veterans Health Administration

• Procedures for VA law enforcement officials investigating, tracking and closing reported incidents


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