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    Tell Congresswoman Speier and other committed members in the House Armed Services Committee: "Thank You" for standing up for victims. 

    The movement to achieve blind justice for our men and women in uniform met an important milestone with the close vote by the House Armed Services Committee on removing the decision to prosecute from the chain of command.

    We applaud Congresswomen Jackie Speier and Tulsi Gabbard for their leadership. And, we thank Congressman Enyart, for his change of heart and impassioned speech regarding why we must take sexual assault cases out of the chain of command, as well as all the members of the Committee who supported the amendment. Add your name to join us in saying thank you to these brave leaders.

    And if you'd like to help us financially fight to get fundamental reform passed in both houses and into law, join our campaign as we fight forward. We've won several small battles this week but the war to reform out military justice system to protect victims of sexual assault is far from over. Contribute $25, $50, or $100 to this fight by clicking here

    House Armed Service Committee members' votes on Speier Amendment:

    Thank everyone who said "Yes" above by adding your name to the top of this page!

  • Tell Senators: Don’t Filibuster Justice

    Protect Our Defenders hears daily from service members who have been dissuaded from reporting, retaliated against, and harassed by their peers and their chain of command. Victims are often put through a grueling and humiliating justice process. Their privacy is violated. Their rapists' commander decides whether they will even have the possibility of justice.

    Justice should not be filibustered. Sign the petition now!

    Over 26,000 sexual crimes occurred in the military in 2012 alone. 92% of victims choose not to come forward. Of those few who do, 62% of women report retaliation.

    The sexual assault epidemic persists because our military justice system is failing victims. 

    There is a solution – the Military Justice Improvement Act would start to bring justice to victims and survivors. It takes the prosecutorial function out of the hands of inherently biased and untrained commanders and puts it into the hands of professional military prosecutors. 

    But, Senator Claire McCaskill and Senator Kelly Ayotte have threatened to filibuster the Military Justice Improvement Act from even coming up for a vote.

    Victims and their families deserve a vote. There is clear support for MJIA from veterans groups, the public, and a bipartisan majority of the Senate. However, a dogged few persist in denying justice to our troops. They will undoubtedly find themselves on the wrong side of history.

    Now is the time. No more excuses. No more delays. Congress must act.

    Sign the petition above to give victims a vote!

    Paula Coughlin, Retired Lt. and Helicopter Pilot, U.S. Navy, Member, Board of Directors, Protect Our Defenders

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    Over the last year, we've stood side-by-side with survivors, their families, servicemembers, veterans, public servants, and concerned civilians in support of the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA). We've faced many obstacles and delays but we have not, and will not, lose our resolve. 

    Today, we'd like you to join us in thanking the public servants who have dedicated themselves to MJIA and stood against so much to keep this reform alive. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the bill's sponsor, is our warrior in the Senate. Send her, and all of the Senator's who stood by us, your support today. 

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    My Fellow Survivor Community,

    My name is Paula Coughlin. I am a former US Navy Lieutenant, helicopter pilot and military sexual assault survivor. Using the form at the right, stand with me and send a message to your Senators now! Tell them why supporting the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) is important to you. Protect Our Defenders will deliver it for you.

    Read Paula's Full Letter >>

  • Stand Up for What's Right

    Senator McCaskill opposes the creation of an independent, impartial military justice system.

    The Pentagon estimates last year more than 26,000 incidents of rape and other sexual crimes occurred in the U.S. military. Only a tiny fraction of those cases were reported, and only a handful of those perpetrators were prosecuted.

    Most victims never report because they fear retaliation from their chain of command. This fear is justified: 60% of victims who come forward say they are retaliated against.

    Senator McCaskill is opposed to letting legally trained military prosecutors determine whether a case should be prosecuted. Instead, she believes the assailant's commander should retain that power.

    Tell Senator McCaskill to stand up for victims and support a fair and unbiased military justice system. Sign our petition using the form below. Your contact information will not be shared.

  • Sign Paula’s Petition: Demand Congress investigates sexual assaults at Lackland Air Force Base

    More than 20 years ago, 87 servicewomen were sexually assaulted while serving in the U.S. Navy, in what became known as the “Tailhook scandal.” I was one of the 87.

    Unfortunately, our military leadership has made no changes that stop this predatory criminal behavior. The epidemic of criminal sexual assault and rape within our armed services has only gotten worse. In the Navy’s official report about the scandal they recommended “intelligent measures to prevent a recurrence.” This never happened.

    The mission of our military is to protect the American way of life and our freedoms, yet this very mission is compromised by leadership that allows, perpetrates and condones sexual assault on the very members of our military.

    The Department of Defense estimates that over 19,000 such incidents occurred in 2010 alone but that only 13.5% of sexual assaults are ever reported. Why? Because victims are often blamed, fear career ending retaliation, and are required to report their assault by fellow soldiers to a superior, not law enforcement or medical personnel.

    Paula Coughlin-PuopoloNow, a new criminal scandal at Lackland Air Force Base has put one of America’s most disgraceful secrets back in the headlines. At least 39 female trainees at Lackland say they were raped, sexually assaulted or victims of other sexual offenses by their instructors.

    Many did not come forward for years out of fear of retaliation from their superiors.

    Gen. Rice, commander of the Air Education and Training Command at Lackland says that the misconduct is not limited to just Lackland and has ordered an investigation into “systemic issues” in the Air Force. The DOD reports that 1 in 4 young women who join the service will be raped or sexually assaulted and 1% of men. The VA estimates over half a million vets have experienced military sexual trauma.

    How much longer and how many more of our brave men and women in uniform need to be raped or sexually assaulted before our elected officials do something to end the crisis? The military has proven that it is unable or unwilling to Protect Our Defenders. Congress should open an investigation immediately and then put an end to the “systemic issues” of military rape and sexual assault by legislating fundamental reform.

    Our government can and must do more.

    Please join me and other survivors now: Tell the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon to Protect Our Defenders, and hold a congressional hearing about Lackland immediately.

    -Paula Coughlin-Puopolo

  • Sign the Letter from MST Survivors to STOP Act Co-Sponsors

    To our fellow survivors,

    Because so many have voiced their support for the STOP Act, today there are over 120 Congressional co-sponsors of this transformational piece of legislation.

    During the fourth week in June, our letter will be delivered to members of Congress thanking the 120 co-sponsors to help us keep attention on the STOP Act and appeal to other members to join this effort.

    The more survivors who sign on, the greater the impact we will have in generating additional sponsors for this crucial legislation.

    Will you stand with us by co-signing this letter?

    Sincerely,

    Panayiota Bertzikis
    US Coast Guard
      
    Colleen Bushnell
    US Air Force
     
    Kori Cioca
    US Coast Guard
     
    Ariana Klay
    USMC
     
    Narelle Helmer
    USMC
      
    Jessica Hinves
    US Air Force
    Darchelle Mitchell
    US Navy
    Michael Matthews
    US Air Force
    Terri Odom
    US Navy

    Note: We will print your full name, branch and year(s) of assault on the letter to congress. If you prefer only your first name be listed, please check the box on the right.

  • Take Rush Limbaugh Off The Armed Forces Network

    In the midst of the stampede of advertisers running away from Rush Limbaugh and his radio show in response to his vile attacks on Georgetown student Sandra Fluke, the Pentagon has announced that it will continue to air Limbaugh’s program throughout the Armed Forces Network.

    That’s right: in the midst of an epidemic of sexual violence in the military, the Pentagon wants to continue broadcasting Limbaugh’s sexist attitudes directly to our forces stationed across the globe.

    Please help us send a message to the Pentagon that this is unacceptable. Use the form below to email the Armed Forces Network and tell them to take Rush off the air now!

  • Tell Fox News: Fire Liz Trotta, who said women in uniform should "expect" to be raped

    And issue an apology to all American Female Military Personnel

    On February 12, Fox News contributor Liz Trotta said, on air, that women in the military should “expect” to be raped.

    Trotta cited as evidence a new Pentagon report on sexual abuse in the military: “I think they have actually discovered there is a difference between men and women. And the sexual abuse report says that there has been, since 2006, a 64% increase in violent sexual assaults. Now, what did they expect?

    What they expect is to be treated with respect, and given the honor and dignity they have earned by serving their country. What they did not and do not expect is to be raped or sexually assaulted simply because of who they are.

    Please join us on behalf of all rape survivors and sign our petition demanding Fox News fire Liz Trotta for these outrageous comments and issue an apology to all female military personnel.

  • Tell Your Representatives: Fix The Broken System

    The Department of Defense says more than 19,000 incidents of sexual assault occurred in our armed services in 2010, yet only 13.5% of those were reported. We have a crisis on our hands.

    We must make sure our elected officials see the stories from Terri and the thousands of other brave service members who have been exposed to such tragedy.

    Please use the form to the right to email your Representatives in Washington and urge them to support Rep. Jackie Speier's STOP Act, which will fundamentally change how sexual assault is handled in the military.

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  • Tell Your Representatives: Fix The Broken System

    The Department of Defense reports more than 19,000 incidents of sexual assault occurred in our armed services in 2010, yet only 13.5% of those were reported, mostly out of fear of retaliation. We have a crisis on our hands. 

    We must make sure our elected officials hear the stories from the thousands of brave service members who have been exposed to such tragedy.

    Please enter your zip code and use the form to the below to email the President and your Representatives in Washington and urge them to support the STOP Act, to fundamentally change how sexual assault is handled in the military by removing the responsibility to investigate and prosecute this violent crime from the unit chain of command.

  • Sign Terri’s petition: Demand Congress creates a new method for reporting sexual assault in the military

    During my training for the U.S. military I was violently raped, tortured and left to die by a superior.

    I am not alone. The Department of Defense estimates that over 19,000 such incidents occurred in 2010 alone but that only 13.5% of sexual assaults are ever reported.

    It is a problem at every level of the military, and just a few days ago the Pentagon reported a 58.5% increase in sexual assaults at its service academies in the last year.

    The military rarely prosecutes rape or sexual assault within its ranks and victims seldom get the medical care they need or the justice they deserve. My assailant, like thousands of others, has never been prosecuted.

    Currently, sexual assault in the military is reported through the normal chain of command. It’s not working.

    Several nations have instituted sweeping reforms to fix similar problems in their armed services, including England, Australia and Canada.  Our government must do more.

    The Department of Defense must take the prosecution, reporting, oversight, investigation, and care for victims of sexual assault out of the hands of the normal chain of command and place the jurisdiction in the hands of an

    impartial office staffed by military and civilian experts. Just as importantly, survivors of rape and sexual assault must be consulted because we know better than anyone the flaws that currently exist.

    Please join me and other survivors now: Tell your representative to Protect Our Defenders and support the creation of a new method for reporting sexual assault in the military outside the normal chain of command through H.R. 3435, The STOP Act

    -Terri, Military Sexual Assault Survivor

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  • Sign Terri’s petition: Demand Congress creates a new method for reporting sexual assault in the military

    During my training for the U.S. military I was violently raped, tortured and left to die by a superior.

    I am not alone. The Department of Defense estimates that over 19,000 such incidents occurred in 2010 alone but that only 13.5% of sexual assaults are ever reported.

    It is a problem at every level of the military, and just a few days ago the Pentagon reported a 58.5% increase in sexual assaults at its service academies in the last year.

    The military rarely prosecutes rape or sexual assault within its ranks and victims seldom get the medical care they need or the justice they deserve. My assailant, like thousands of others, has never been prosecuted.

    Currently, sexual assault in the military is reported through the normal chain of command. It’s not working.

    Several nations have instituted sweeping reforms to fix similar problems in their armed services, including England, Australia and Canada.  Our government must do more.

    The Department of Defense must take the prosecution, reporting, oversight, investigation, and care for victims of sexual assault out of the hands of the normal chain of command and place the jurisdiction in the hands of an impartial office staffed by military and civilian experts. Just as importantly, survivors of rape and sexual assault must be consulted because we know better than anyone the flaws that currently exist.

    Please join me and other survivors now: Tell your representative to Protect Our Defenders and support the creation of a new method for reporting sexual assault in the military outside the normal chain of command through H.R. 3435, The STOP Act

    -Terri, Military Sexual Assault Survivor

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