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Taking action against sexual assault and abuse

Sen. Joni Ernst is asking Congress to enhance federal efforts

Sadly, sexual assault and harassment are serious problems in contemporary society. It has become apparent in recent years that even institutions admired for their commitment to honor and integrity are not free of unacceptable behavior. The service academies that train the most elite officers in our military forces are very much in that category.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, a combat veteran herself and a victim of sexual assault many years ago, has made addressing sexual abuse in contemporary America a priority. In view of her comprehensive knowledge of our armed forces, she has paid particular attention to how they are combating the all too common occurrence of assault and abuse.

With that in mind, the Iowa Republican has joined forces with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois., to introduce the Coast Guard Sexual Misconduct Prevention Act. Duckworth is an ideal partner for this bipartisan legislation because she too had a distinguished military career before entering politics.

The two senators developed this legislation because they are troubled by reports of an increase in sexual assault and harassment claims at the United States Coast Guard Academy and in the Coast Guard more generally. They are dissatisfied with the leadership shown thus far in responding to this serious matter.

“The recent reports of sexual misconduct and harassment at the Coast Guard and its academy are alarming and unacceptable. We must do better for the Iowans, and all Americans, who choose to serve and protect our country,” Ernst said. “This bipartisan bill takes important steps to combat sexual assault within the Coast Guard ranks and the academy.”

The legislation creates a committee to advise the secretary of homeland security on improved measures to prevent sexual misconduct. Additionally, the advisory body would be empowered to recommend changes to “the policies, programs and practices of the service and its academy.”

The Messenger commends Ernst for her work to make sexual assault and harassment less common in our society and our military. She has been a tireless champion for efforts to bring about fewer victims. The senator is also determined to guarantee that when there are victims they have their charges and complaints processed appropriately without fear of experiencing discrimination or retaliation.

We urge Congress to give the legislation Ernst and Duckworth have introduced careful consideration. It can help improve an unacceptable situation and warrants prompt approval.

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