Issue Is 'Undermining The Integrity Of The Whole Military'

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork)Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand continued to appeal for greater oversight and more accountability when it comes to sexual assault in the military.

Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is a member of the Armed Services Committee and also serves as the chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel.

She recently introduced a measure to make it safer and easier for members of the military to report sexual abuse within the ranks.

Speaking on CBS’ “Face The Nation” Sunday, Gillibrand said the current system is working more as a deterrent to those who’ve been sexually assaulted.

“They’re afraid to report because of retaliation, because they’ve seen other women be retaliated against, or they feel that they’ll either be marginalized and their careers will be over or they’ll be blamed,” said Gillibrand on CBS’ “Face The Nation.” “And so until you have transparency and accountability and objectivity where the decision-maker of whether you’re going to trial or not is an objective prosecutor, not a commander, you’re not going to have the kind of reporting and, frankly, justice that we need in the system.”

Gillibrand has been outspoken on the issue since it came to light that last month, Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, who headed up the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Unit was arrested on sexual battery charges.

“Just to be clear, this is not just a women’s issue. More than half of the victims are men. This is a problem that is corrosive, that’s undermining the integrity of the whole military and is undermining our military readiness,” said Gillibrand. “And if we want our troops to be ready for any event that our military needs to prepare for, you’re not going to be as strong as you would be otherwise if you have this within the ranks.”

Gillibrand has estimated about 26,000 instances of sexual abuse within the ranks each year, and said just a small fraction of those ever get reported.

Later Sunday, Gillibrand planned to revisit three Staten Island restaurants to see how they are recovering from superstorm Sandy.

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