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


I urge the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon, to Protect Our Defenders and hold a congressional hearing about Lackland immediately.
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