By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief
On June 7, the U.S. Air Force command named Maj. Gen. Margaret H. Woodward director of its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. She replaces her predecessor, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, who was charged with sexual assault in early May.
Announcement of his arrest came the day before the Department of Defense was to hold a press briefing to tout changes intended to improve the handling of sexual assaults. Also on June 7, the U.S. Army command suspended Major General Michael T. Harrison, the commanding general of the U.S. Army in Japan for failing to “to report or properly investigate an allegation of sexual assault.”
At the press briefing, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said he was “outraged and disgusted” at the allegations against Krusinki. Hagel also asserted that “
Congress has launched an investigation into how the military is handling sexual assaults. According to the Washington Post, the hearings were precedent setting in that it was the first time the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff had testified together as witnesses; the hearings were also marked by the significant presence of women on the Senate Armed Services Committee—seven in all.
Perhaps we are at the tipping point and having so many women on the committee holding the military accountable will make a difference. Perhaps the only solution is a bipartisan bill proposed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Armed Services Committee, which would remove prosecution of such crimes from the military chain of command. The Washington Post reports that all the military chiefs oppose that idea.