U.S. service members have reported a spike in sexual assaults, especially young women, according to a confidential survey released by the Pentagon in February 2019(U.S. Marine Corps photo)
WASHINGTON — Congress could intervene in legal cases on behalf of military members who have been sexually assaulted under a new bill co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Rep. Brian Mast.
The Florida Republican in late April introduced "Harmony's Law," named after his constituent Harmony Allen, who was raped by an instructor just three months after joining in the U.S. Air Force in 2000.
The Senate Armed Services Committee hears from military leaders. (Adrian Cadiz/U.S. Air Force.
Several senators have signed onto new legislation which would give the Defense Department more responsibility and oversight of privatized housing companies, as well as more rights regarding clean and safe housing environment for tenants.
The Military Housing Oversight and Service Member Protection Act, embedded below, was proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-Hawaii), both on the Senate and House Armed Services Committees. Other co-sponsors include SASC members Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
"Our service members make sacrifices to protect our country, and they and their families deserve safe, affordable housing that isn't falling apart around them," Warren said. "This bill will eliminate the kind of corner-cutting and neglect the Defense Department should never have let these private housing providers get away with in the first place."
For going on 17 years, Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal has served, fought, and bled for his country; first as a Marine infantryman, when he survived a gunshot wound to the chest during a firefight in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2004; and then as a U.S. Army Green Beret, deploying overseas multiple times.
Now, he's fighting a battle against terminal lung cancer that his military care providers failed to catch, and in the process, Stayskal is taking on a 69-year-old legal rule known as the Feres Doctrine which bars service members and their families from suing the government for negligence or wrongdoing.
On April 30, Stayskal was one of three victims of military medical malpractice to testify before Congress on the Supreme Court precedent that bars them from having their day in court.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Army Capt. (Dr.) Gregory Giles, ophthalmology resident, preps a patient for cataract surgery at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Jan. 29, 2019. Cataracts, which cause clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye, are the leading cause of treatable blindness. (U.S. Army photo by Jason W. Edwards)
Lawmakers introduced legislation on Tuesday that would allow service members and their families to sue the government, in certain cases, when a member of the military is a victim of military medical malpractice. The bill was introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) the chairwoman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, and includes co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.
Richard Stayskal and his wife Megan traveled to the nation's capital to testify on the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 legal rule that bars service members from suing the government for negligence and wrongdoing. (Task & Purpose/James Clark)
Members of Congress on Tuesday heard directly from victims of military medical malpractice who are barred from suing the government due to a decades-old Supreme Court precedent known as the Feres Doctrine.
The list of witnesses included service members, veterans, Gold Star family members, and legal experts who offered emotional testimony during a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing on how the legal rule has barred military victims of medical malpractice from legal recourse.
Despite the Pentagon already having received pushback from Congress about plans to help build the border wall, the Army announced two multi-million dollar contracts on Tuesday for border wall construction in New Mexico and Arizona.