Ernst: A bipartisan effort to prevent the scourge of sexual assault in armed forces
Column by Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) in The Hill...
On the battlefield, the difference between victory and defeat is often a leader having the ability to inspire his or her troops to success. When I decided to make a career out of military service by joining the ROTC program and U.S. Army Reserves, I never realized how much I would grow to appreciate this kind of leadership within the military’s ranks.
After serving 23 years in the Army Reserves and National Guard, and now as a United States senator, I’m working in Congress on the Senate Armed Services Committee to help equip our warfighters, provide for a common defense to beat our adversaries, and ensure that the men and women who serve in our military are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Getting all three of these right are fundamental for America to succeed on the battlefield.
In January 2019, it became public that I was sexually assaulted in college and later suffered domestic abuse, something I had held secret for many years. It was painful to relive these experiences, but it explained to the public my passion for these issues and why for instance, it was so important to me to spend time volunteering at a women’s shelter in college counseling victims of similar experiences.
As many people know all too well, one of the areas where sexual assault has become all too prevalent is in our armed forces. While our military is a highly disciplined force with impressive capabilities, for far too long, issues of sexual assault have been allowed to fester within our military installations and on the battlefield. While there were many who took the issue seriously, too many took a “boys will be boys” mentality and minimized these voices. With so many women serving and dying for our country, that mentality was just plain unacceptable, and I have made it my mission to stop it.