Letter of Support for Save Our Heroes in Our Shared Quest for Military Justice Reform & Constitutional Rights

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October 1, 2016

U.S. House of Representatives
United States Senate
Washington, DC

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a letter of support for Save Our Heroes. We recognized immediately that Save Our Heroes and victims of crimes both want similar changes in the military justice system. Save Our Heroes is asking for three specific legislative/policy changes to restore fundamental fairness in the military justice system:

1. Remove all Commanders authority from decision-making in the legal system.
2. The number of panel members should be increased to 12 for General Courts Martial.
3. Any conviction at Courts Martial shall require a unanimous verdict.

These requests by Save Our Heroes are similar to the overall changes that victims of crimes in the military have lobbied for, specifically that Commanders be removed from the reporting and decision-making process because of fear of bias, lack of investigative training, and the power to discharge and/or punish with the stroke of a pen. Save Our Heroes is requesting the same changes because ultimately both the victims and accused are looking for a military justice system that mirrors the civilian justice system while respecting the need of the Commanding Officer to ensure discipline is maintained within their command. We want a justice system where crimes are reported to legal authorities and not a Commander who is an authority figure with the power to impact your entire life. We want a justice system where crimes will be investigated thoroughly by unbiased military criminal investigative organizations looking for the truth. We want a justice system that provides the same constitutional rights as those provided in the civilian justice system. Save Our Heroes is specifically asking for changes that are commonplace in the civilian justice system, like a jury of twelve of our peers and a unanimous verdict. Our military deserves no less.

Victims of crimes in the military are asking for a military justice system that provides due process for the accuser and the accused. Crime victims want the ability to go to trial based on an independent prosecutor’s decision to charge because there was sufficient evidence to move forward with a case. Crime victims want those people who level false accusations, and engage in other abuses of the process, to be held accountable. While we recognize that false reports represent a small percentage of total reports (between 2-8 percent based on Bureau of Justice Statistics data), those who do falsely accuse are hurting the real victims of these crimes and should be held accountable through the same impartial military justice system. Both the accusers and the accused are asking for due process, which is best accomplished by a system that mirrors the civilian justice system. Currently, Commanders have control of the process when the accused, accuser, defense attorneys, and prosecutors should have control over the process.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Norris, Military Justice for All
Stephanie Schroeder, US Human Rights Network & UN Board Member
Brian Lewis, Men Recovering from Military Sexual Trauma

Air Force Defends Handling of Sex Scandal (2013)

USAF SealThe House Armed Services Committee hears testimony on Lackland Air Force Base’s sexual misconduct problem. Generals say they’re addressing underlying issues, but victims have concerns.

The hearing did not include testimony from the alleged sexual assault victims at Lackland, nor from those charged or convicted in connection with the investigation. But two Air Force veterans who said they were sexually assaulted years ago did testify.

“If you want a career, you don’t want to say anything because you get retaliated against; you get beat up and thrown out. We need to remove the chain of command from the reporting process — it’s absolutely detrimental,” she said, adding that as a military sexual assault victim, “You almost become a leper.” She testified that two of her attackers pleaded guilty, but others were never charged.

Read more here.

History: The Military And Domestic Abuse (January 28, 2009)


Critics say the military needs to do more about domestic violence against women. A CBS News investigation found more than 25,000 women have been victimized over the past decade. Katie Couric reports. -CBS

Related Links:
A Silent Struggle (2009)
Domestic Abuse In The Military (2009)
The Army And Domestic Abuse (2009)
Abused Military Wife Speaks Out (2009)
Bringing The War Home (2009)
Tonight: Investigating Domestic Violence In The Military (2009)
When War’s Violence Comes Home (2009)

MJFA Research:
Fort Bragg Army Nurse Lt Holley Wimunc Murdered by Marine Husband the Day After She Announced Divorce, John Wimunc Sentenced to Life in Prison (2008)
Rep. Braley introduces Holley Lynn James Act (2011)
Army Spouse Katherine Morris Found Dead in Car Near Mall; Cause of Death Initially Ruled Suicide But Further Investigation Suggests Homicide Motivated by Insurance Fraud (2012)
Evidence Reveals Army Reserve Recruiter Adam Arndt Murdered HS Student & Recruit Michelle Miller, Then Killed Self; Army Claims Double Suicide (2013)
Army Sgt Michael Walker Allegedly Conspired to Murder Wife with Prostitute for Insurance Money; Awaiting Murder Trial in Hawaii Civilian Court (2014)
Army Pfc Karlyn Ramirez Found Shot to Death in Home, Army Veteran Dolores Delgado Plead Guilty & Army Sgt Maliek Kearney Awaiting Trial (2015)
Army Pfc. Shadow McClaine Reported Missing at Fort Campbell on 9/2; Spc. Charles Robinson Pleaded Guilty to Murder, Sgt. Jamal Williams-McCray Awaiting Trial (2016)
Life Insurance Fraud is a Common Motive for Murder in the Military
A List of Soldiers Targeted & Murdered for Military Survivor and Life Insurance Benefits
30 Domestic Abuse Cases in the Military That Ended in the Murder of Female Partners
Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members

History:
Spouse Abuse A Military Problem (1999)
Pentagon Reveals 50,000 Abused Military Spouses (1999)
General: The Good Soldier Doesn’t Beat His Wife (2001)
Retired judge remembers ‘60 Minutes’ Ed Bradley (2006)
When Strains on Military Families Turn Deadly (2008)
PTSD and Domestic Abuse: Husbands Who Bring the War Home (2010)
Domestic violence: end of your time in the military? (2011)
Reports of family violence, abuse within military rise (2011)
A Silent Epidemic: Spousal Abuse is the Military’s Best Kept Secret (2012)
High risk of military domestic violence on the home front (2014)
How The Military Failed This Victim Of Domestic Violence (2014)
DoD Highlights Programs to Prevent, Treat Domestic Violence (2014)
After Combat Stress, Violence Can Show Up At Home (2016)
Sutherland Springs Church Killer Was Kicked Out of Air Force for ‘Bad Conduct’ (2017)
An Air Force error allowed the Texas gunman to buy weapons (2017)
Air Force Failed to Report Texas Church Gunman Devin Kelley’s Domestic Violence Convictions (2017)
Here’s the Document That Should Have Prevented Devin Kelley From Buying Guns (2017)
Read Devin P. Kelley’s assault and domestic violence court documents (2017)
The loophole that may have given the Texas church gunman access to his arsenal (2017)
A Domestic Violence Loophole In The UCMJ? [Update: Kelley Was In A Mental Health Facility] (2017)
Texas shooting puts scrutiny on military’s criminal reporting system (2017)
The military reports almost no domestic abusers to the main background check database for guns (2017)
Defense Department has Reported Only One Domestic Abuser to Federal Gun Database (2017)
US military consistently fails to report domestic violence to gun database, senators say (2017)
The Air Force Error That Let the Texas Church Shooter Buy a Gun Is Just One of ‘Thousands’ (2017)
There Is No Domestic Violence Loophole in Military Law (2017)
Assault charges erased by veterans’ ‘Valor Act’ (2017)
Clarifying Our Reporting on the Military, Domestic Violence Records, and Gun Background Checks (2018)

Congressional Action:
Jeff Flake, Martin Heinrich introduce bill to close domestic violence loophole in military (2017)
Hirono Bill Closes Military Loophole On Firearm Purchases (2017)
Sen. Hirono Introduces Military Domestic Violence Reporting Enhancement Act (2017)
Rep. Rosen Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Close Loophole in Military Justice System that Allows Convicted Domestic Abusers to Buy Guns (2017)
Following Shooting in Texas, Kaine Introduces Bill to Close Loophole in Military Justice System that Enables Convicted Abusers to Purchase Guns (2017)
Military wife alleges abuse in the Army (2018)
Victims can face obstacles in domestic violence cases involving soldiers (2018)
Tillis Chairs Hearing on Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in the Military (2018)
YouTube: Tillis Chairs Hearing on Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in the Military (2018)
C-SPAN: Hearing Focuses on Domestic Violence & Child Abuse in the Military (2018)
SASC: Hearing Focuses on Domestic Violence & Child Abuse in the Military (2018)
Mother of sexually abused child: The military is failing victims (2018)
Lawmakers move to make domestic violence a crime under UCMJ (2018)
The UCMJ May Get A Domestic Violence Update To Prevent The Next Texas Church Shooting (2018)
UCMJ domestic violence overhaul aims to prevent another mass shooting (2018)
Rosen Amendment to Make Domestic Violence a Crime Under the U.S. Military Code of Justice Passes the House Armed Services Committee (2018)
S. 2129: Military Domestic Violence Reporting Enhancement Act