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Let civilians handle sex abuse in military

After years of horrific stories, and watching the PBS documentary detailing the sexual assaults being made on members of our military, it is clear that changes must be made.

Over and over, defense officials and military officers have sworn that there will be no tolerance of this behavior, but it continues and has even increased. We owe the men and women who serve our country a complete shift in how these assaults are prosecuted.

Too much power is given to commanders who have little or no knowledge of the law, or investigation, or police matters. Too little incentive is given to commanders to pursue these cases, and prosecute them vigorously. In fact, some see reporting these assaults as a detriment to their own careers.

It is time to take these matters out of the hands of the military chain of command. Let’s have an independent body to investigate and prosecute all cases of reported sexual assault or rape. People who cannot be ordered to “drop it” or be transferred to some other post. People with no agenda, no stake in the military structure: civilians. Hire ex-FBI, ex-police and attorneys. Make sure their administrators do not answer to any military or Defense Department officials. Make the reports public, and have a follow-up chain, to make sure no cases get “lost.”

Our men and women serve our nation with honor and dedication, ready to lay down their lives for us all. How can we allow this antiquated, antediluvian system of the “old boy’s network” to continue? Civilian oversight is required!

Lawrence Southwick III

Amherst