05/24/2013 06:19 pm ET Updated Jul 24, 2013

Congress's Response to Sexual Assault in the Military

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According to a Pentagon survey of active duty service members, there were an estimated 26,000 sexual assaults in the military last year. However, the number of actual reports of sexual assaults was far lower. There were 3,374 reports of sexual assault involving service members last year.

In response to these reports, the Defense Department published a revised sexual assault prevention and response strategic plan. And this week, the House Armed Services Committee released legislative language as part of the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a number of bipartisan reforms to the way sexual assault cases are reported, investigated and punished in the military.

Here's a look at the dozen bills (and a resolution) that Congress is considering related to sexual assault in the military -- in no particular order.

Proposals in Congress: Sexual Assault in the Military

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  • Better Enforcement for Sexual Assault Free Environments Act (S 1032 and HR 2207): to combat sexual assaults in the military by better holding perpetrators accountable and better protecting survivors and to protect and enhance the rights of victims.
  • Combating Military Sexual Assault Act (S 871 and HR 2002): to enhance assistance for victims of sexual assault committed by members of the Armed Forces.
  • Military Justice Improvement Act (S 967 and HR 2016): would remove the decision whether to take a case to special or general court-martial completely out of the chain of command and give that discretion to military prosecutors for all crimes punishable by one year or more in confinement, except crimes that are uniquely military in nature, such as disobeying orders or going AWOL.
  • Military Crime Victims' Rights Act (S 1041): to afford crime victims' rights to victims of offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Deployment Act (HR 1986): to provide for the assignment of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners-Adult/Adolescent to brigades and equivalent units of the Armed Forces.
  • HR 1864: Whistleblower protections for military sexual assault victims. To require an Inspector General investigation of allegations of retaliatory personnel actions taken in response to making protected communications regarding sexual assault.
  • S 964: Requiring new criteria for who can serve in sexual assault prevention positions. To require a comprehensive review of the adequacy of the training, qualifications, and experience of Defense Dept. personnel responsible for sexual assault prevention and response for the Armed Forces.
  • S 992: More rigorous screening, training of military sexual assault officers. To provide for offices on sexual assault prevention and response under the Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces, to require reports on additional offices and selection of sexual assault prevention and response personnel.
  • Military Sexual Assault Prevention Act (S 548): to improve and enhance the capabilities of the Armed Forces to prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual harassment in the Armed Forces.
  • Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act (HR 1593): to improve the prevention of and response to sexual assault in the Armed Forces by establishing a Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Council and an enhanced Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office and by requiring the appointment of a Director of Military Prosecutions for sexual-related offenses committed by a member of the Armed Forces.
  • Ruth Moore Act (S 294 and HR 671): to improve the disability compensation evaluation procedure of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for veterans with mental health conditions related to military sexual trauma.
  • US Coast Guard STRONG Act (HR 2059): to ensure the issuance of regulations applicable to the Coast Guard regarding consideration of a request for a permanent change of station or unit transfer submitted by a member of the Coast Guard who is the victim of a sexual assault.
  • House Resolution 213: Establishing the Special Committee on Sexual Assault and Abuse in the Armed Forces to conduct oversight, ensure accountability, and report on the activities of the Dept. of Defense to prevent, reduce, prosecute, and provide victims' services for cases of sexual assault and abuse in the Armed Forces.

Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill doesn't imply a POPVOX endorsement in any way. Rather, we're simply trying to offer one more way to stay informed of an overwhelmingly complex legislative system. (Learn more about how POPVOX works.)