A year after Congress ordered it to change its policies, the U.S. military is transforming how it handles sexual assaults, offering victims confidential reporting for the first time, the Denver Post reports. “Our traditional system does not afford sexual-assault victims the care and support they need, said Undersecretary of Defense David Chu. “we are moving aggressively to put new systems in place to address this shortcoming. The well-being of victims is a priority for us, and we are doing whatever it will take to ensure they get the best possible care.”
Victim advocates criticized the plan as lacking in detail and often misfocused. “I think that considering what Congress has authorized them to do, they have not covered all the bases,” said Kate Summers of the Miles Foundation, a nonprofit that helps victims of military domestic violence and sexual assault. “It’s very hard to tell if there are big changes or incremental steps,” said Sarah Graham Miller of RAINN, an advocacy group for sexual-assault victims. The Denver Post in 2003 detailed widespread flaws in the armed forces’ justice system and victim services. One new directive says commanders can require a sexual-assault victim to leave the military if that is “in the best interest of either the Armed Forces, or the victim, or both.” “That means their needs trump hers,” Summers said.