The House Armed Services Committee began hearings on the sex scandal that embroiled Lackland Air Force Base. The location of the Air Force Basic Training program, Lackland was rocked by a scandal that saw 59 victims of sexual misconduct and assault come forward and 32 instructors have their careers tarnished or destroyed.
Among those who testified were Chief Master Sergeant Cindy McNally and former Technical Sergeant Jennifer Norris. In her testimony, McNally stated “To me, the sexual assault cases at Lackland demonstrate what happens when leadership fails. Basic training is where our sons and daughters are their most vulnerable. The power Military Training Instructors have over these airmen is perceived as absolute…Consent does not exist in a basic training environment.”
Former Marine Corps Captain Anu Bhagwati, who heads up the Serice Women’s Action Network, stated that “We’re encouraged that Chairman McKeon and the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the investigation of one of the worst public sexual assault scandals in U.S. military history, and especially proud of our courageous veterans who gave testimony.”
Captain Bhagwati went on to say “Going forward, we would like to see congressional and military leadership step outside the box and take steps to create a sea change in military culture, and the treatment of women in particular. Inside the military, there are still few deterrents to sexual predators and harassers. We need a multi-pronged approach to ending this systematic dysfunction within the military by ending legalized discrimination against service women, moving sexual assault case disposition away from military commanders and into the hands of impartial military prosecutors, and opening up civil courts to service members so that the criminal justice system is not their last hope for justice.”