Washington, D.C. - Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Reps. Mike Turner (R-OH) and Niki Tsongas (D-MA) wrote to the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard to express their concern that the Coast Guard has not yet adopted an expedited transfer policy for victims of sexual violence as have the military departments under the authority of the Department of Defense. The STRONG Act requires the development of sexual assault prevention and response training at every level of professional development. In addition, it affords victims the protection of expedited transfer away from the geographic location of their alleged attacker.
"While we understand the Coast Guard is not under the authority of the Department of Defense absent a formal declaration of war, the spirit and intent of this law are to eliminate impediments to preventing sexual assault and provide for the protection of sexual violence victims throughout our nation's Armed Services, including the Coast Guard," wrote the lawmakers.
In the event that there are policies that cannot be implemented to align Coast Guard policy in a manner consistent with the provisions of the STRONG Act absent legislation, the lawmakers have requested that the Commandant provide a list of such necessary changes to statute.
"We respectfully request, therefore, a briefing no later than March 8, 2013 on the sexual assault response regulations, programs, and services that exist in the Coast Guard and how these policies align with the requirements of the STRONG Act….We also specifically request that the Coast Guard implement new policies to provide for the provision of expedited consideration of a request for transfer," added the lawmakers.
The Military Rape Crisis Center has worked with these lawmakers to ensure that Coast Guard rape survivors are not left out from life saving legislation made available to the Department of Defense.
If you are a survivor of Military Sexual Trauma—or know someone who is—and need help, contact the Military Rape Crisis Center at www.stopmilitaryrape.org.