Ernst and Duckworth Team Up to Tackle Sexual Misconduct in the U.S. Coast Guard

After an uptick in sexual assault and harassment claims at the USCG Academy, the Iowa Republican and Illinois Democrat are working together to help address the issue

WASHINGTON—Following reports of an increase in sexual assault and harassment claims at the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) and a lack of leadership in regards to the Coast Guard’s handling of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, U.S. Senators and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), are introducing a bipartisan bill aimed at preventing sexual assault and retaliation in the United States Coast Guard.

“The recent reports of sexual misconduct and harassment at the Coast Guard and its academy are alarming and unacceptable. We must do better for the Iowans, and all Americans, who choose to serve and protect our country,” said Senator Ernst, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. “This bipartisan bill takes important steps to combat sexual assault within the Coast Guard ranks and the academy.”

“For too long, our military has failed to adequately protect women and men from sexual misconduct and assault,” said Duckworth. “As a former commander, I am committed to pushing for meaningful, effective reforms that prevent sexual assault from happening in the first place. That’s one reason I’m proud to join Senator Ernst to introduce this legislation to help ensure all members of the military are able to work and thrive in their careers without fear of sexual assault.”

Senator Ernst served as a company commander in Kuwait and Iraq, leading Iowa Army National Guardsmen during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard after 23 years of military service. Senator Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient and served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring from military service in 2014 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Background:

The Coast Guard Sexual Misconduct Prevention Act creates a committee responsible for advising the Secretary of Homeland Security on how to prevent sexual misconduct—along with retaliation and social ostracism for reporting such conduct—in the Coast Guard and for recommending changes to the policies, programs, and practices of the service and its academy.

The Advisory Committee will include experts in sexual assault prevention, suicide prevention, and the practice of facilitating change in the culture of large organizations.

In May, Senator Ernst joined Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to put forward two bipartisan bills to expand support for victims of military sexual assault and domestic violence that were included in the year end Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

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