How sexual assault in the military drains taxpayers

All told, the cost hit $3.6 billion in 2012 alone. As cases and victims' frustration mount, the Pentagon and Congress are slow to act.

By Jason Notte Jul 18, 2013 7:15AM
The Invisible War, Us Poster Art (© Cinedigm Entertainment Group/Everett/Rex Features)Because military code, moral code and law haven't been able to stop the rising rate of sexual assaults among the U.S. military ranks, maybe it's time to speak in terms that the upper echelons and those who approve their funding will understand.

According to a study by international researchers at RAND, the repercussions of military sexual assaults cost the U.S. $3.6 billion last year.

That calculation includes medical and mental health services for victims and other "intangible costs." The unpaid work days military sexual assault victims are likely to take off after their ordeal add up to $104.5 million a year alone.

The Pentagon recently said military sexual assaults are up 35% just since 2010. That earned the military a "no tolerance" admonishment from President Barack Obama, but efforts to stop those assaults have been mired in bureaucracy.

The House of Representatives passed a provision that would grant victims protection after coming forward, but it has limped along. The Senate proposed moving sexual assault cases out of the military chain of command and putting military prosecutors in charge instead. That's because the current process often results in retaliation from other military personnel and discourages witnesses or those who know the perpetrator from coming forward.

The original proposal by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., that has 27 co-sponsors, including four Republicans, was swapped out for an amendment by Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., that would keep sexual assault cases inside the chain of command and require a senior military officer to review decisions by commanders who refuse to prosecute rape cases.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said taking the cases outside of the chain of command would "dismantle" the military justice system that "has long been a centerpiece of discipline in our military."

In defeat, Gillibrand summed up nearly 20 years' worth of frustration among military sexual assault victims and their advocates: "The chain of command has told us for decades that they will solve this problem, and they have failed," she said. "We have heard the words 'zero tolerance' for over two decades, starting with Secretary Dick Cheney in 1992."

Meanwhile, the continued foot dragging comes at a cost. The Pentagon notes that 26,000 military personnel were sexually assaulted last year alone.

More on moneyNOW

Jul 18, 2013 11:46AM
This is truly terrible. Our high ranking military officers and our congress should be ashamed of themselves.
Jul 18, 2013 1:02PM

The ground fighting capability of the military has been seriously diminished because of the political decisions to allow men and women to mix in combat units/zones.  For the same reasons of "sexual distraction" special operations are resisting the admission of females into their units. The infantry, armor, artillery and engineers should do the same.  Doing anything less is an attempt to change the natural nature of a man, aggressive sexually or otherwise.  We can't program them to be aggressive one day and not the next. 

Jul 18, 2013 11:57AM
A military officer takes an oath to protect the men and women under their command. Our military exists to protect our freedom. Officers who are protecting others from prosecution are creating their own dictatorship's. Where is Leavenworth when you need it - that is where officers should go who do not protect their soldiers.
Jul 18, 2013 11:40AM
I thought these were  America's best?  You never get American's best with an all volunteer military.  Put the draft back in place with the stipulation no one gets out of it for any reason, especially political reasons.  The  US has wars line up for the next 50 years. Lets get some of these future politicians in on the front line fighting that way they will truly understand fighting for you country.  If a few of the Bush and Cheney grandchildren are part of the front line you will see a lot of wars will not be fought. As long as we use the poor and uneducated to  fight our never ending wars nothing will change.  Congress considers our front line soldiers as disposable assets and when they return from war without limbs they are  considered photo ops.
Jul 18, 2013 10:17AM
Our military personnel should be held to the highest standard and sexually-assaulting your fellow soldiers is completely unacceptable.  How about a visit to the firing squad to those found guilty?  Make an example out of them.
Jul 18, 2013 2:43PM
Bad numbers from a poorly conducted survey. Only 20% return on survey and then numbers projected out onto the entire military population. Common sense: people are more likely to fill out a survey if they have strong feelings about the subject. Nobody knows whether 26,000 military were sexually assaulted. Not even that many surveys were returned. The survey asked about "unwanted sexual contact" but is now reported as "sexual assault". Why is that?
Jul 18, 2013 12:32PM
The military crime rate has skyrocketed because more blacks and hispanics are joining up.
Jul 18, 2013 11:54AM
separate the sexes simple . political correctness has evolved to the point where it,s accepted to see young woman coming home in body bags , or as amputees . the press can show all the woman they want running around acting like killing machines ready to face the enemy but in real life most woman would have a hard time in heavy combat . a fire fight is different than hand to hand. not much , or any reporting , talks about what would happen if these woman soldiers were captured. rape is a situation most would be put thru . does this mean during a draft men and woman will be called up to fight our wars ? i don,t think many would be so excited about equal rights in the military knowing they have to go . putting men and woman together only leads to ruined life,s and careers .
Jul 18, 2013 6:27PM
Time to have two armies. One male army and one female army. Different command and different purposes as well as different barracks.
Jul 20, 2013 11:44AM
If rapists were court martialed and executed, the rapes would stop. I was gang raped by 4 marines, men I trusted with my life, nothing was done to them, but my career and my life was ruined.
Jul 19, 2013 12:43PM

The army could take the guys who think that is fun and put them in the same separate army together and call it the dirty doggens or something. I don't think the females are really into it. There is however, supposedly a style of sex that is known as "rough sex." I don't know how that came to be, but some claim to like that sort of thing. If there are any females who like that, then you could put them in the same army or another separate army so that they would not encourage those conditions while among other females who don't like the rough stuff. You have to deprive the ones who are grabbing the things that don't belong to them of those things they are grabbing. This is adolescence at its worst and needs to be handled by advice from professionals sometimes.

Jul 18, 2013 11:00AM
its both men and woman getting rapped duds like pie holes of both kinds.  your right salt peter would be great.
Jul 18, 2013 12:18PM
I suppose that there will be a lot of big money lawsuits in the age of political correctness.
If I'm fighting some bad guys in some dump country, I don't need little susie next to me.
Now I have to protect her and fight the bad guys, all because she really wants to be a man.
If they want to let just anyone and everyone in the military, then we can't remain number one long.
And it sure looks like that's what this so called administration is doing.

Jul 18, 2013 12:21PM

This is what happens when men and women are put together in stressful situations. This comes from our insistance on being politically correct. Men go to war, women support their husbands and sons. Women have no place in a battlefield environment, they are much too important to be involved.

Jul 18, 2013 12:37PM
Women should have an auxiliary branch that they could serve in. That's probably not going to happen so maybe this overhaul would work. I hope so for the taxpayers and the women who have to go through this. Sexual harassment is bad enough and is demoralizing. I've been through some of that myself. I can't even imagine how bad sexual assault is and these who do it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Jul 18, 2013 9:43AM
The answer is simple, ( salt peter ) in their food
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