The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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Editorials

June 26, 2013

Intolerable

Even though Jay Rockefeller has announced his intentions to not seek re-election and retire in 2016, the senator from West Virginia is not shying away from important issues.

It’s alarming, and appalling, what is going on in the U.S. military in regard to sexual assaults and abuse.

And Rockefeller made it clear this week — it’s something that he detests as well.

“I’m sickened every time I hear a story of sexual intimidation and abuse, especially within military institutions that are supposed to be about following the law and upholding the moral fiber of our country,” Rockefeller said Monday. “We must have a zero tolerance policy for any of this cowardly and criminal behavior.”

There is a proposed bill being set forth to change the way these terrible acts are reported. Rockefeller pledged his support of the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act.

The men and women who choose to defend our country, many by putting their very lives at risk on the front lines, certainly deserve to do so in a manner that is free from harm caused by fellow service personnel.

And this is no small matter.

The statistics are disturbing.

Rockefeller quoted an anonymous survey conducted by the Department of Defense, there were some 19,000 cases of sexual assault in 2011. In 2012, a sharp rise — 37 percent, or about 26,000 reported assaults.

The DOD also noted that 20 percent of women in uniform complained of unwanted sexual contact.

How can the military continue to recruit in good faith, until this issue is resolved?

This issue is a black eye on the U.S. military, and the United States for that manner.

The world once looked to the U.S. as a beacon of hope, a land that promised freedom and liberty.

But with every issue like this that makes international news, Americans suffer, with evidence of decaying morals, indifference to common decency and upholding the law.

We’re better than that.

Our hope is that this bill will pass, and it will one day prevent heinous acts against our own servicemen and servicewomen.

And thanks to our leaders like Sen. Rockefeller who take a stand against this behavior, would-be offenders will perhaps be likely to think twice before acting, and pay for their crime if committed.

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