Today, the Department of Defense (DOD) released the Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military.
This year’s report, which is required by Congress and published by DOD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, contains survey results, reporting data, and military justice case outcomes. The report also provides updates on the Department’s efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault throughout Fiscal Year 2021.
The Secretary of Defense launched a variety of historic initiatives in 2021 to improve how the Department addresses sexual assault prevention and response. Most notably, the Secretary’s Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military recommended over eighty improvements after conducting a wide-ranging assessment of current policies, programs, and personnel experiences. This year’s military personnel survey results underscore the Commission’s observations by finding that risk factors for sexual assault grew in military workplace climates between Fiscal Year 2018 and 2021 which likely led to increased sexual assault prevalence for women and men in 2021.
“On day one of his taking office, Secretary Austin prioritized action to improve how the Department addresses sexual assault. We are taking unprecedented action to prevent sexual assault and restore the trust of Service members in the military justice process,” said Ms. Elizabeth Foster, Executive Director of the Office of Force Resiliency. “In addition to the reforms and investments already made in 2021 and 2022, the Department will continue to implement the recommendations of the Independent Review Commission. These efforts include standing up a prevention workforce to prevent harmful behaviors and build climates of dignity and respect, establishing independent Offices of Special Trial Counsel to prosecute sexual assault and other named offenses, and professionalizing the sexual assault response workforce with enhanced skills and the independence required to support survivor recovery.”
This has been a time of action, planning, and resourcing—all aimed at having lasting and enduring impacts. The Department’s most senior leaders remain sharply focused on solving this problem.
“Across the entire Department of Defense, we are building enduring cultural change on an unprecedented scale. We are incorporating accountability and transparency into our response process while establishing a professionalized prevention workforce to reduce harmful behaviors and promote the well-being of our Service members.” said Mr. Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. “Taken together, the efforts will set the right conditions to reduce and eliminate unwanted sexual contact, sexual assault, and sexual harassment in the Military Departments.”
The Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military and a fact sheet with the topline results are available on https://www.sapr.mil/.