Reps. Heck, Turner Introduce Bill to Protect New Members of the Armed Forces from Inappropriate Relationships, Sexual Contact

May 23, 2013 Issues: Defense and National Security, Veterans

Legislation Would Ensure Those Who Violate Rules Would be Separated from Service

WASHINGTON -  Congressmen Joe Heck (NV-03) and Mike Turner (OH-10) today introduced legislation aimed at protecting the newest members of the Armed Forces from being subjected to inappropriate contact or relationships during the recruiting and training process. The No Tolerance Act of 2013 would require the establishment of uniform regulations defining inappropriate and prohibited relationships between military personnel in supervisory roles and new members of the military. It would also require that any military personnel found in violation of those regulations to, at minimum, be processed for separation from the service.

"Acts of unwanted sexual contact under any conditions are heinous but when they are committed by those in positions of power and under the guise of authority, they are especially reprehensible. Such acts have no place in the United States military," Congressman Heck said. "The recent publicity surrounding several high profile cases of unwanted sexual contact underscores what we have known for too long: inappropriate sexual contact in the military has been and continues to be a problem. This legislation sends a strong message that inappropriate contact between superiors and entry-level military members will not be tolerated. I am pleased to be working with Congressman Turner, who has worked tirelessly on this issue, on this legislation and am hopeful we can find a way to include in the NDAA."

“The young men and women who are joining our military today are volunteering and risking their lives for their country in order to make the world a better and safer place for all of us.  These recruits and their families have placed a great trust in the nation and their military leaders and should be afforded the same in return.  When entering our military, recruits are their most impressionable and rely on the leadership and guidance of their training instructors and supervisors.  This bill aims to protect our newest servicemembers and hold those accountable who violate their trust.  I’m glad to have worked with Congressman Heck on this important legislation, and look forward to including it in this year’s NDAA,” said Congressman Turner.

Reps. Heck and Turner, both members of the House Armed Services Committee and outspoken advocates for addressing the cultural and climate problems within the military that lead to sexual harassment and assaults, intend to offer the No Tolerance Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA is annually passed by both chambers and signed into law annually due to its importance to our national defense.

Congressman Heck, a Colonel in the US Army Reserves and military health care provider, has firsthand experience with both the physical and devastating mental effects a sexual assault or inappropriate contact can have on service members. That experience has shaped his efforts to not only make sure that future assaults are prevented, but that cases of sexual assault and unwanted, inappropriate contact are properly prosecuted.

Congressman Turner is Co-Chair of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus. For several years he has been a leading advocate for creating laws to address the systemic cultural issues combating sexual assault in the military. Through the NDAA he has legislated a number of provisions which have sought to change the way sexual assault is handled, as well as the culture of our military.

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