Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today issued the following statement after the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included her amendment banning anyone convicted of a felony sex crime from joining our armed forces. The policy was put in place administratively by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2009, but Senator Boxer's amendment would codify the ban into law, making the change permanent. The House passed the NDAA conference report yesterday.
"We owe it to our brave service members to do everything we can to protect them from sexual assault," Senator Boxer said. "The action of both the Senate and the House will strengthen the military's zero tolerance policy for these heinous acts of violence by permanently banning those convicted of felony sex crimes from serving in our military."
In 2011 alone, 3,192 incidents of sexual assault were reported in the military. According to the Department of Defense, this figure may significantly underestimate the actual number of sexual assaults, and the actual number may be closer to 19,000 annually.
In addition, service members who receive a conduct waiver are more likely to commit a sexual assault. According to a report recently published by the Army, soldiers that entered the military with conduct waivers were more likely to commit a felony sex crime while on active duty than soldiers who entered the military without waivers.
The National Defense Authorization Act now goes to the President for his signature.