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Support military prevention act

I grew up in Melbourne, am a former Rose Queen (1985) and a 1986 graduate of West Marshall High School. Since graduation, my life and my careers have taken me far away but, today, I am writing my letter to those kids (and their parents) who are wanderers as well.

I spent the larger part of my career working with branches of the military, most recently with the USMC, in the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response field. I am the wife of a newly retired Marine, and I am also a victim of sexual harassment and retaliation.

The bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Increased Prevention Act is designed to professionalize how the military prosecutes serious crimes like sexual assault, and to remove the fear that survivors of military sexual assault experience when deciding whether to even report these crimes knowing, that 64 percent of survivors, reported that they experienced some form of retaliation for reporting the crime.

This legislation matters and here is why. It matters because our Iowa kids become service members. Every USMC recruit training I went to, whether at Parris Island or San Diego, I called out for the Iowa kids to tell me where they were from. It became like a bit of home — for me — and I think for them too.

Over the past many years, the Department of Defense reported increasing numbers of sexual assaults by servicemembers but with declining conviction rates. This must stop. Despite decades of Congressional inquiries, thousands continue to be victims of sexual misconduct; and often the assailant is in the survivor’s chain of command. Very few offenders are ever held accountable.

I do not say any of the above to stop our kids from joining the military. Being a member of the armed forces can truly be a great career for both men and women, but I want to make sure that the Department of Defense and each branch of service is held accountable; that our kids are afforded protections by congressional legislation that will be meaningful; and most importantly that our kids are safe.

Recently, Iowa Senators Ernst and Grassley, respectfully announced their support of MJI-IPA. I ask that you too stand in support of this monumental change that will protect all our kids and grandkids and their futures.

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