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

quote-walter-cronkite-in-seeking-truth-you-have-to-get-76354

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

Rep Nikki Tsongas & Rep Mike Turner Host Educational Caucus: Improving Treatment Resources for Male Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma

img_5768

Dr. Susan J. McCutcheon, Director of Family Services, Women’s Mental Heath, and Military Sexual Trauma, Department of Veterans Affairs

Learn more:
Strength & Recovery: Men Overcoming Military Sexual Trauma
Men: You are Not Alone in Overcoming Military Sexual Trauma
Department of Veterans Affairs, Military Sexual Trauma

img_5773

Dr. Judith L. Johnson, Consulting Clinical Psychologist, The Lewis B. Puller Jr. Veterans Benefit Clinic, William and Mary Law School

Learn more: Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic, William & Mary Law School

IMG_5765.JPG

Diana Rangoussis, Senior Policy Advisor, Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Office (SAPRO)

Learn more: Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Office

Learn more: Brian Lewis, US Navy Veteran & President and Co-Founder of Men Recovering from Military Sexual Trauma

Learn more: Bob Hunter, US Navy Veteran & Vice President of Men Recovering from Military Sexual Trauma

Part 2: Bob Hunter, US Navy Veteran

img_5781

Heath Phillips, US Navy Veteran & Executive Director of Men Recovering from Military Sexual Trauma

Learn more: Heath Phillips, Active Duty Military & Veterans Advocate, a Voice for Male Victims of Crime

123951

Related Links:
Turner and Tsongas host briefing on Male Military Sexual Assault to give victims a voice
Colonel Doug James (ret), Chairman of “Save Our Heroes” is a “Wingman” for Change!
Veterans Benefits Clinic Highlights Problem of Male Sexual Trauma in the Military
‘It savaged my life’: military sexual assault survivors fighting to become visible
Men Recovering from Military Sexual Trauma (Mr. MST)
Military Sexual Trauma: Prevalent and Under Treated