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Fifty Percent Increase in Reported Sexual Assaults Reported by Pentagon

New York, NY (May 1, 2014) – According to an annual study conducted by the Pentagon and released today, reports of military sexual assault increased by 50 percent for fiscal year 2013, from 3,374 reported cases in FY 2012 to 5,061 reported cases for FY 2013.

Today, IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff issued the following statement:

“While we are convinced that Pentagon officials are committed to addressing the issue of sexual assault, no one should confuse better reporting and more accurate numbers with actually solving the problem,” said Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA CEO and Founder. “These numbers show that there is still hard work to be done to reduce sexual assault in the military. Congress must fund and empower the Pentagon, and both institutions must remain vigilant until sexual assault is not a threat to the safety of our servicemembers. This is a matter of national security. If troops aren’t safe in uniform, they can’t be safe in battle. IAVA and its members will continue to push leaders for more reforms to address sexual assault in the military.”

Since its inception, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the largest non-profit, non-partisan organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, has been a strong advocate for military sexual assault reform. The group represents our nation’s growing and increasingly diverse new veteran population.

IAVA’s specific recommendations can be found in our 2014 Policy Agenda. In recent months, IAVA has supported:

• The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included landmark reforms, sponsored by Senators McCaskill (D-MO), Gillibrand (D-NY), Murray (D-WA) and Ayotte (R-NH), to tackle sexual assault in the military.

• Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) Victims Protection Act, which included provisions to hold commanders more accountable for addressing sexual assault.

• Passage of the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

The MJIA would have placed prosecution decisions in the hands of experienced military lawyers. MJIA ensured that decisions to move to trial would be based on the evidence of the case alone, giving both survivors and the accused confidence in the impartiality of the system. The bill would have equipped commanders with tools to prevent and address sexual assault within their units. IAVA members from across the country called Senators in support of the legislation, arguing that the MJIA’s reforms are critical to breaking the status quo of pervasive sexual assault in the military.

Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 12th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 7,300 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.