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Sen. Martha McSally introduces bill to combat sexual assault in military

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford talks with Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) during a Senate Armed Services Committee on March 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona ramped up her crusade against sexual assault in the military Wednesday by introducing comprehensive legislation to combat the problem.

McSally has been working on the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act since early March, when she first disclosed during a hearing that she was raped by a superior when she served in the Air Force.

Since then, she has spoken to commanders about the issue at every military base in Arizona. She also convened a meeting with Department of Defense leaders to discuss recommendations.

“When America’s mothers and fathers send their sons and daughters off to the military, it’s our responsibility and a covenant to keep them safe from crimes being committed by other teammates,” McSally told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos.

“We put our lives on the line when we go to battle, but we’ve got to stop these crimes.”

The bill is designed to increase support for victims after they report sexual assault as well as improve the investigation and judicial process.

“Obviously we’ve got to stop these assaults from happening in the first place,” she said.

“We’re going to be actually tackling that next, but I wanted to present something before we marked up the defense bill.”

Unlike some, McSally doesn’t want to see the decision on whether to prosecute sexual assault cases taken out of the hands of commanders.

“I very strongly disagree with that, as a former commander and as a survivor, but I wanted to also show I’m not for the status quo,” she said.

“My bill, actually, really is going to improve the opportunity for justice, due process and timely and thorough process related to these issues, and I think it really will make a difference.”

The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, and committee members Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida) and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota). McSally also serves on the subcommittee.

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