Press Releases

Kuster, Katko, Speier, Joyce Hold Bipartisan Roundtable on Military Sexual Trauma

**The Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence co-chairs, Reps. Annie Kuster (D-NH), Dave Joyce (R-OH), Jackie Speier (D-CA), and John Katko (R-NY), along with Task Force member Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), heard from panelists during today’s roundtable**

**Watch the full Task Force roundtable HERE**


Washington, D.C. — Today, Reps. Annie Kuster (D-NH), Dave Joyce (R-OH), Jackie Speier (D-CA), and John Katko (R-NY), co-chairs of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, hosted a virtual roundtable on military sexual violence and discussed steps Congress can take to bolster resources for survivors and ensure perpetrators are held accountable. 


Earlier this month, the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military released its report and recommendations


“Despite decades of military leaders stating clearly that sexual violence and harassment has ‘no place in our Armed Forces,’ the reality our service members still face on the ground is very different,” said Rep. Kuster. “We must ensure every service member can focus their attention where it is needed: protecting our homeland and keeping Americans safe. Today’s roundtable is an important step forward to reform our military sexual assault system, and I will continue working across the aisle to end sexual violence within our Armed Forces.”

“As Members of Congress, we have an obligation to not only care for, but protect our men and women in uniform,” said Rep. Dave Joyce. “No one should ever experience any form of sexual violence or harassment, especially those who sacrifice so much to serve our country. Our troops must be able to have confidence that the military’s response to reported sexual assaults or harassment will be victim-centered, that the report will be fairly evaluated, and that if guilty, the perpetrator will be brought to justice. I thank the witnesses for their testimony today and commend my colleagues on the Task Force for their continued commitment to eradicating crimes of sexual violence in our nation’s Armed Forces.”

“We’ve spent billions of taxpayers’ dollars on eliminating sexual violence and sexual harassment in the U.S. military and heard years of excuses, many in congressional hearings from top military brass, yet 135,000 active duty men and women were sexually assaulted over the past decade. Even more chilling is the number of these cases that have resulted in slayings or death by suicide. Clearly the system is beyond broken and Congress must fix it,” Rep. Jackie Speier said. “This year, thanks to the work of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual assault in the Military and the blood, sweat, and tears of survivors and advocates – including the family of Spc. Vanessa Guillén – we’re on the cusp of taking these cases and other non-military felonies, such as murder and kidnapping, out of the chain of command. Today’s roundtable discussion couldn’t be more timely or critically needed in ensuring that we are able to achieve this justice for servicemembers and their loved ones.”

“I was glad to join the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence today to discuss how Congress can better combat sexual violence and promote accountability within the Armed Forces,” said Rep. Katko. “Sexual violence has been a problem within the Armed Forces for many years, and concerningly, in fiscal year 2019, the Department of Defense reported a 3% increase in sexual assaults. We have a responsibility to honor the sacrifices made by America’s servicemembers and do our part to defend them. I’m grateful to our panelists for providing insight and recommendations on this critical issue, and I look forward to continuing my work in Congress to create a safer environment within the Armed Forces.”


The Task Force was joined by:

— Col. Don Christensen, U.S. Air Force (ret)., President of Protect Our Defenders

— Glenna Tinney, former co-chair of the DOD/VA Subcommittee of the National Task Force Against Sexual and Domestic Violence

— Sharyn Potter, Co-Director, Prevention Innovations Research Center at the University of New Hampshire

— Meghan Tokash, Assistant US Attorney for the Western District of NY and Member of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military

— Cindy Dyer, former Director of the Office of Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice and Member of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military

— Cailin Crockett, senior advisor to the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military


Last month, Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH-02) and Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH-14) introduced the bipartisan National Sexual Assault Hotline Grants Reauthorization Act, legislation to reauthorize important federal grants for the National Sexual Assault Hotline (NSAH). NSAH, operated by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), is the nation’s primary provider of services to survivors of sexual violence and includes the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline (NSAOH).