RED OAK, Iowa – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, a survivor of sexual assault and a combat veteran and former commander in the Iowa Army National Guard, has joined fellow members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., in introducing legislation to improve the U.S. military’s response to sexual assault.
This follows Ernst’s introduction of new, bipartisan legislation earlier this year with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Gillibrand to prevent military sexual assault and hold perpetrators accountable by moving the decision to prosecute serious crimes from the chain of command to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors—a bill that now has more than 64 cosponsors.
“Survivors of sexual assault should have the best possible care. In order to ensure that, the military needs to professionalize the men and women charged with supporting victims after these horrific events, and this bipartisan effort will help us do that,” Ernst said in a released statement.
The Professionalizing the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Act tasks the Department of Defense with evaluating options for establishing a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) military operational specialty (MOS) and reporting its findings and recommendations to Congress. The bill comes after the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee reported on growing concerns of SARCs lacking the training and resources needed to be effective at providing support to military sexual assault victims.
Ernst, Gillibrand and Hawley were joined by fellow Armed Services Committee Senators Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Ben Cardin, D-Md., in introducing the bill.