Tester backs legislation to better protect victims of sexual assault in the military

Bipartisan STRONG Act builds on recommendations to improve accountability

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester is backing legislation to provide better legal protections and support to victims of sexual assault in the U.S. military.

Recent reports show a sharp increase in sexual assaults within the military over the past several years.  Reports also indicate that many assaults have not been effectively investigated. 

A Defense Task Force recently provided 30 recommendations to strengthen legal protections for victims and to bolster accountability for those responsible.

Tester’s bipartisan Defense Sexual Trauma Response Oversight and Good Governance (STRONG) Act would ensure those recommendations become law.

“We can’t effectively fight this problem if women in the military have to worry about putting their careers at risk if they report abuse, or if military investigators aren’t held accountable,” Tester said.  “That’s what our plan aims to fix.  By strengthening protections for our troops, we’ll improve military cohesion and strengthen our armed forces overall.”

The recommendations in the Defense Task Force report, included in the STRONG Act, include:

  • Appointing a Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response
  • Creating a team of sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates
  • Providing access to legal counsel and services for sexual assault victims
  • Assuring communication confidentiality between victims, coordinators, and advocates 
  • Requiring the military to keep investigation records of sexual assaults for the same amount of time required in civilian cases
  • Allowing expedited consideration for a permanent change of station request for victims
  • Conducting trainings and education about sexual assault prevention

A copy of the STRONG Act is available on Tester’s website, HERE.