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Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies, Academic Program Year 2021-2022 Media Roundtable

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ELIZABETH FOSTER: Great. All right, well, good afternoon, everyone, and thank you all so much for joining us here today.

So we are here to brief you on the Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies for academic program year 2021 through '22, and I'm joined today by Dr. Nate Galbreath, who is the acting director of DOD's Sexual Assault and Prevention and Response Office; Dr. Ashlea Klahr, who is the director of health and resilience research at the Office of People Analytics; and Dr. Andra Tharp, who is the director of our violence prevention cell. So as Nicole said, I'm just going to provide a few quick opening comments, and then turn it over to the team to walk you through the rest of the briefs.

So unfortunately, this year's report shows a significant increase in sexual assault prevalence at the military service academies. Our numbers indicate that this is the highest sexual assault estimated prevalence rate for both women and men at the military service academies since the department started measuring this in 2006. These numbers are extremely disappointing and upsetting. I mean, there's really no other way to see it. Our cadets and midshipmen, our future military leaders should be able to learn and grow in an environment free of sexual assault and harassment.

And while these numbers are troubling, it is important to acknowledge that we've had a number of prior indicators that tell us that this problem may be getting worse. So whether that's through military focused reports like Fort Hood or the Sexual Assault Independent Review Commission, or more recent surveys that look at the experiences of America's children and youth.

And this is precisely why Secretary Austin made countering sexual assault a priority since his first day on the job. As you all know very well, Secretary Austin launched the Independent Review Commission On Sexual Assault In The Military, or the IRC, as we call it, and approved implementation of all EDQ recommendations wherever possible. These recommendations gave us the tools we need to tackle this problem, and we must ensure that we're implementing these recommendation in the force, but also to the specific military service academy context.

Today, Secretary Austin announced a number of actions that are focused on ensuring expedient implementation of these recommendations at the military service academies. Secretary Austin today is also directing additional activities at the academies such as the on-site installation evaluation, which are designed to leverage the department's new tools and capabilities created by the IRC. These tools allow us to take a granular look at this problem, better identify and target risk factors and ensure we're making deliberate, data-informed and localized changes to counter sexual assaults.

Secretary Austin's memo, which you all have with you today, demonstrates the department is sustaining momentum and in our unprecedented efforts and investment in countering sexual assaults. We know that cultural change of this magnitude is going to take time, but we owe it to our cadets and midshipmen to demonstrate what action and leadership looks like. We can change this trajectory, but we all must work to eliminate sexual assault from our academies and from the broader force.

So with that, I'm going to turn it over to Dr. Nate Galbreath, who's going to walk you through slide three.

DEPUTY DIRECTOR NATHAN GALBREATH: Good afternoon, everyone. On slide three, we list for you the federal law that covers our look at the academies. Essentially, Congress directs the Department of Defense to go and provide a view of what the academies are doing to counter sexual harassment and sexual assault every year. However, according to the law, our look varies from year to year.

So in academic program years that begin in odd years, which is this year, it's a survey year, and we go on site to the academies to assess the prevalence of unwanted sexual contact, and also, we assess compliance with our programs via the self-assessment reports that the academies provide to the department. And that's what you have in this year's report that covers June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022.

Next year's report, or in academic program years that begin in even years, that's an assessment year, and that includes an on-site visit, where we look to see for ourselves compliance and with policy and programs, and that's what we'll be working on this summer, and also, this spring as we work to understand better the kinds of risk factors and protective factors that are driving some of the results in the data that you see today.

Speaking of that, the department uses two primary metrics when we assess sexual assault, and that is prevalence and reporting. Sexual assault prevalence is estimated via scientific surveying, and it's the estimated number of cadets and midshipmen who have experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact in the months preceding the survey in the academic program year. This gives us the fullest picture of the problem, because sexual assault is an under-reported crime. Our desired state for that estimate is to see that decrease over time through our prevention work.

We also measure the amount of reports that we receive, and develop a reporting rate, and that's the number of victimized cadets and midshipmen who have made restricted or unrestricted reports. And for now, our desired state behind that is to see that increase. That's the part of the problem that we see in restricted and unrestricted reports of sexual assault. This allows us to provide them care. We give care for survivors and help them on their road to recovery. It also gives the department an opportunity to hold offenders appropriately accountable.

And while we have seen some progress in the past at the academies, as Ms. Foster noted, we've continued to see prevalence of unwanted sexual contact increase over the years. That being said, it doesn't mean that the academies haven't been looking at this. They have and they've been working very hard.

And as a matter of fact, one of the things that they did this year was really support our survey efforts. This year, we saw an 81 percent response rate with our academies survey. Basically, it's telling us that the academies got everyone -- all of the cadets and midshipmen out to participate.

We essentially briefed the cadets and midshipmen about the voluntary nature of this survey and then they're free to leave after our briefing and participate in the survey if they desire.

What I would also tell you is unlike the report that we provided to you last September with the active force, there were no significant changes in the survey items that we administered at the academies. Essentially, this is a survey that we've been using since about 2006, very similar methodology across the years. As a result, our results trend historically.

And just to remind everyone, this is our first survey since 2018 because in 2020, our COVID response measures essentially prevented us from conducting the survey as scheduled.

So, with that being said, in laying the groundwork here, I'd like to turn it over to Dr. Klahr, who is going to go to slide number four and give you highlights of some of the survey findings that we've got this year. So Dr. Klahr?

DIRECTOR ASHLEA KLAHR: Thank you, Dr. Galbreath. Good afternoon. So I'm on slide four. Here, we're showing you the primary metric that we're getting from the service academy gender relations survey, which as Dr. Galbreath already described, is our estimate of past year prevalence. This is the percentage of women and the percentage of men that we estimate experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact during the past academic program year.

It's important to note how this question -- or how this information is gleaned from the survey. We're not simply asking folks "did you experience an unwanted sexual contact?" We use a behaviorally based metric that asks about five different behaviors that are captured under the Article 120 of the UCMJ that are indicative of sexual assault under that definition, things that happened when the person did not or could not consent.

As already described, we've been asking these questions in the same way since we started doing this survey back in 2006. So, when you look at those trend lines, this is as good as you can get in the survey business of an apples-to-apples comparison of these prevalence rates over time.

As you can see, we did see a statistically significant increase in prevalence among both women and men at the academies in 2022 compared to 2018 and higher than we've estimated at any point since we started doing this survey.

I'm turning now to slide five. On this slide, we're showing you what those trend lines look like for each of the three academies, for women and for men. As you can see, there were statistically significant increases for women and men at all three of the academies.

We did see a less dramatic increase for women at West Point compared to women at the other academies. However, that increase is still statistically significant. And for men, we see that prevalence across the three academies is very similar.

Not shown on this slide but included in the report, we also look at these numbers by the type of unwanted sexual contact that we're measuring, which includes penetration, attempted penetration, and unwanted touching.

We did see increases in all three types of unwanted sexual contact for women and men, suggesting that there was not a single type of crime that was really driving this increase, but instead, we saw increases across the board.

We also look at fact patterns around these situations, around who the alleged offenders were and when and where these situations were occurring. In general, we saw that these fact patterns were very consistent with what they were in 2018 and in years prior as well.

Consistent with prior years, alleged offenders are most often fellow cadets or midshipmen. For female victims, it's almost always a male offender. For male victims, we do see a mix of both male and female alleged offenders.

These situations most often occur on campus, in the dorm or living area, followed by off-campus at a social event, like a party being the second most frequent location. And most of these situations are happening after duty hours, on the weekends or on holidays, or after duty hours during the week.

I'm turning now to slide six. On this slide and the slide that follows, we're showing you a look at these prevalence rates focused in on different demographic factors, and the reason we're doing this is because we are looking to understand the risk factors that are associated with differences in prevalence in order to help inform targeting of prevention activities to the groups or the periods of time that are most risky.

What you see on slide six are the prevalence rates for women and men split by class year, with the most recent numbers from 2022 in the yellow and the blue bars. So across the board, we saw increases in prevalence in all of the class years. There wasn't a single class year that was really driving this increase.

But what we do see is this very consistent pattern between 2022 and also in prior years where the freshman year is the least risky period, where rates are lowest, and then we see a big increase in prevalence when we go from the freshman year to the sophomore year. For women, for example, you can see that prevalence essentially doubles for -- between the freshman year and the sophomore year.

This information, again, is very helpful for informing prevention activities and I'm going to turn to Dr. Tharp to expand on that a bit more.

SENIOR PREVENTION ADVISOR ANDRA THARP: Good afternoon. So a key aspect of DOD's integrated prevention approach is moving away from a one size fits all approach, but as Dr. Klahr said, we're moving towards targeting our prevention to the point in time when it will have the greatest impact. And these data suggest that implementing and front loading prevention before the peak of the behavior in sophomore year is a key opportunity for preventing that uptick that we see in the sophomore year.

We also understand that these data help us understand a little bit more about what could be targeted or what prevention approaches could be applied to stop that increase from freshman to sophomore year, so looking at things like class norms or class structures, are there differences in school liberties between freshman and sophomore year? All of these things will help us work with the military service academies to better front load their prevention but also to target those key risk or protective factors that may be contributing to that increase.

So I'll turn it back to Dr. Klahr.

DR. KLAHR: Thank you. So turning now to slide seven, here we're looking at other factors that are associated with differences in prevalence. In the upper right-hand quadrant or figure, here we are first taking a look at the percentage of cadets and midshipmen who experienced unwanted sexual contact at any point prior to entering the academy. So, this could be childhood, adolescence, any time before they came into the academy.

And what we see is between 2018 and 2022, there was an increase in the percentage of women cadets and midshipmen coming to the academy with a prior history of having experienced unwanted sexual contact, as many as one in three, and we see it's been one in 10 for men, consistent with 2018.

So if you look across the row to the right hand side, what we're doing now is splitting out those two groups of individuals, those with a prior history of unwanted sexual contact and those without that prior history, and we're looking at their prevalence rates of unwanted sexual contact from the past academic program year. So what you can see there for both women and men is that prevalence in the past year is higher among those who have that prior history of unwanted sexual contact. This is particularly dramatic for men, but we do see a difference there for both women and men.

And I'm going to turn to Dr. Tharp to talk about how this information is relevant from a prevention perspective.

DR. THARP: Thank you. So we get the question all the time, you know, why is this? Why are individuals who experience adverse events prior to military service, whether that's abuse or violence during childhood or adolescence, why are they at greater risk for unwanted sexual contact during military service? And what we know from the civilian literature is that experiencing abuse and violence during childhood and adolescent actually changes the way that the brain functions such that individuals are less able to assess risk and respond to risk.

The good news is that we also know from civilian literature that skills can be taught for these individual to learn to be more present in those situations, to detect and respond to that risk. So through the implementation of the IRC recommendations, we're putting a number of things into place to enhance the resources and support for individuals who are coming into the military with these previous adverse experiences, and a key piece of the IRC implementation, as we'll talk through in the way forward, is ensuring that the military service academies are also implementing these IRC recommendations in a way that's adapted for their unique environment. But these data really underscore the key opportunity we have to provide enhanced resources and support to these individual who are coming in with previous trauma.

And I'll turn it back to Dr. Klahr.

DR. KLAHR: Thank you. So that last piece of data on this slide, we also looked at experiences of sexual harassment as another risk factor, and that's what you see in the bottom-left quadrant. This is the percentage of cadets and midshipmen who experienced sexual harassment in the past year, and you can see that there were increases in that rate for both women and men between 2018 and 2022 at the academies.

Across the row on the right-hand side, we're again splitting out these two groups. In this way, we're splitting out those who had no experience of sexual harassment in the past year and those who did, and looking at their prevalence of unwanted sexual contact. And here, you can see that those who experienced sexual harassment were at much greater risk of also experiencing unwanted sexual contact, again, enforcing that sexual harassment is a really useful risk factor when we're trying to understand experiences of risk. Sometimes, this is the same alleged offender who's harassing the person before they are assaulting them. Other times, sexual harassment could be indicative of a microclimate that is perhaps making these problematic experiences more likely to occur.

So with that, I am going to turn it over now to Dr. Galbreath.

DR. GALBREATH: So I am turning now to slide 8, and consistent with my previous comments about the two major metrics that we used in this mission space to assess progress over time, I'm going to show you a little bit of information about our prevalence and reporting trends.

So when we estimate how many cadets and midshipmen have experienced sexual assault in the past year, we used the rates of sexual assault -- or unwanted sexual contact that Dr. Klahr told you about to figure out how many people those rates represent.

So with regard to this year -- or excuse me -- with regard to the top line of blue diamonds that you see across the top of slide number eight, you'll see that this year, 21.4 percent of women and 4.4 percent of men we estimate to be about 1,136 cadets and midshipmen that experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact in the year prior to being surveyed. That's up from our estimated number from 737 in 2018; certainly not the direction that we're looking for those statistics to go.

However, out of the people that we estimate experienced sexual assault, how many report it? And that's what that red line tells you across the bottom. And as you can see, this year, we received 155 restricted and unrestricted reports of sexual assault, up from 131 last year. One hundred and fifty-five is about 14 percent of the 1,136 individuals that we estimated experienced some kind of unwanted sexual contact in the past year. So essentially, that 14 percent is the reporting rate that we have. How does that compare to our folks in the active force? It's about half, and our active force rates of reporting varied between about 20 and 30 percent.

However, 155 reports aren't all the reports the academies received. There are others that we received, and that's what's in the gray box just to the right -- in the right column of the slide.

DR. GALBREATH: As I was saying, the 155 reports that we received from cadets and midshipmen who experienced an unwanted sexual contact for an event that occurred during military service aren't all the reports that we received. We also received about 16 reports from cadets and mids who told us about a sexual assault that they experienced prior to coming on their military service, and then in addition to that, we had another 35 reports from other people who experienced sexual assault at the hands of a cadet or midshipman. So for a total, we have about 206 reports received at the academies.

We encourage greater reporting of sexual assault because it allows us to connect survivors with those services and assistance that's going to set them on their road to recovery, and we also encourage greater reporting so we have an opportunity to hold offenders appropriately accountable.

I'm going to now turn it back to Ms. Foster, who's going to give you a thumbnail sketch of some of the actions that we'll be taking in response to these data.

MS. FOSTER: I want to just touch quickly on some of the actions that the Secretary announced today that we are going to take at the academies to get after this problem.

And I think these actions are really a demonstration of the continued momentum and unprecedented focus that the leadership has on this issue at the department and are really focused on ensuring that we are applying the IRC recommendations to this specific academy context.

Because you've got the memo, I'm not going to get into all of these recommendations in detail, but I want to highlight a few for you. And so on slide nine, you have our prevention-focused recommendations. And in particular, I want to highlight the conducting on-site installation evaluations.

So as you all may remember, Secretary Austin announced the on-site installation evaluation effort, or OSIEs as we call them, in 2021, and it's a tool that we've been using in the active component. And what it means is that we're using data and tools that we haven't had previously and we're using these tools to make data-informed visits, whether it's to installations or, in this case, at the academies to determine what is driving the risk on the ground, what's working well, what isn't, and then make very specific and localized recommendations that address the risk that is being experienced in that specific context.

So we're going to be conducting those visits over the next couple of months and we expect that those visits will conclude by the end of April and we'll be working with the academies to implement the recommendations that come out of those visits.

The other thing I want to highlight is that we are asking the academies to develop an implementation plan for DOD's prevention workforce. So I know that you all have heard me talk a lot about the prevention workforce within the context of the active force and that our prevention workforce is really focused on driving down those common risk factors that we see, you know, not just for sexual assault but for a range of harmful behaviors, like suicide, domestic violence, retaliation.

And so, you know, what we need to ensure is that we're building this prevention workforce at the academies just as we are at every other DOD installation. And we need to do that because we're implementing -- as Dr. Tharp indicated, there are a lot of complex recommendations focused on prevention coming out of the IRC but we have to have folks on the ground to ensure that we're effectively implementing that. And so that's really the first step.

I think what I'd also highlight is that in the cases at the academies, you know, there are some great programs on the ground but what we're seeing is that they're not always effectively integrated, that a lot of times they're working in silos.

And so what the prevention workforce is designed to do is function in this integrator role, to bring together all these different disparate groups and make sure that they're working together effectively to get after this problem.

I'll also highlight the last action we have here, which is broaden the skills of MSA leaders, and really, what we're focused on here is thinking about those officers that are on the ground in kind of those mid-level leadership roles -- so our tac officers, our AOCs, our company officers at the academies.

These are fantastic leaders and they act as a resource and a model for our cadets and mids about, you know, what it is to be a military officer but what we're seeing is that, you know, we're not necessarily setting those officers up for success. They may not have all of the prevention tools necessary to set an example and counter the risks that we're seeing on the ground at the academies. So we want to take a look at their curriculum and make some adjustments so that we can really strengthen their prevention capabilities.

Now, if you turn to slide 10, while we're focused on expanding our prevention capabilities, our comprehensive approach to countering sexual assault also means that we need to take a look at our response capabilities as well.

We need to ensure that we're taking care of our cadets and mids that are victimized by sexual assault. And a lot of these actions on this slide are really focused on bringing the academies in line with IRC recommendations and existing policy.

But the one that I really want to highlight for you is this communicate the importance of military justice reforms, and this is really critical because as you all know, the department is undertaking the biggest change to the military justice system that we've seen in decades.

And as of December 27th, 2023, the department is required by law at that date to stand up the new Office of Special Trial Counsel. And it's not just going to impact, you know, the active force but that's going to have an impact at the academies as well because in the current structure, the superintendents are the convening authority. And so this new system, the Office of Special Trial Counsel, will ensure that there's greater independence for the judicial system at the academies.

And we think it's really, really important that we tell our cadets and mids about this historic change that we're making so they understand that the department is taking action, making change in this space, and they understand how the new system will work. So we'll be working really closely with the military departments and our Office of General Counsel to make sure that we're doing that over the next year.

So with that, that concludes the major actions that we're going to be undertaking but I look forward to answering your questions as we go through this.

STAFF: Hey, everyone, hank you so much for your patience as we went through a little technical difficulties but we're back on track. And so with that, we'll start with folks who've asked us questions, and I'll start with Meghann Myers from Military Times. Over to you.

Q: Hi, everyone. I have a couple of policy questions. The first one is about this proposed improved separation policy for alleged perpetrators and survivors. I'm thinking about, for instance, at the Naval Academy, where all of the mids live in the same building and go to the same place to have their meals and have formations every day. Is there guidance in that policy? Are there parameters in that, you know, Secretary Austin's guidance to make sure that survivors aren't completely ostracized from the brigade during these proceedings because everything is so communal?

MS. FOSTER: Yeah, Meghann, I'm going to turn it over to Dr. Galbreath to answer that question.

DR. GALBREATH: So Meghann, currently, all three academies do have policy that addresses this, and it's important to understand why it's so important the -- the academies work this at their level, because the last thing we want to do is to further stigmatize survivors.

So the language that the law prescribed, and also that we're using talks about the fact that where it makes sense to do this, where you can, to be able to complete their coursework without taking classes together or being in close physical proximity. And again, once again, it's to the extent practicable that we can do this. And so that's why we are asking the services to move ahead and to ensure that those policies reflect what they can do that's practicable to address the situation. Thanks.

Q: Yes, it's pretty straightforward to not be able to not put the same people in the same class, but to keep them from running into each other at lunch or in the hallways of Bancroft Hall, how do you or -- is that not practicable?

DR. GALBREATH: It would be very difficult to create situations where they never run into each other, and I think this is why we work very closely with survivors to pre-brief them ahead of time that we'll take every step that we can, but we also give them a safety plan that, should they feel threatened, should they feel concerned, that they have people to turn to, and also, steps that they can take to address the situation.

Q: All right. One more follow-up, Nicole. The freshman tradition that you guys identified as being maybe a little bit protective against sexual harassment and sexual assault, the first one that comes to mind, of course, is that, you know, plebes are not able to date, or are really discouraged from even having much fraternization with older students, and that maybe that is protective. But is there a way to incorporate that same sort of those same sort of boundaries, you know, in sophomores and upperclassmen? I am also thinking of, you know, plebes having to wear their uniforms whenever they leave campus, everywhere they go, and maybe that having a protective factor about everyone's behavior in public. And I'm wondering how those same sorts of policies can be implemented for older students who are used to having more freedom.

MS FOSTER: Yes, so Meghann, I think that's a great question, and it really speaks to a lot of what we're trying to do with our prevention work. Because you know, essentially forbidding any contact is probably not the right answer. But what we have to teach our cadets and mids is how can you date safely? How can you have healthy relationships? What does this look like? And that's a lot of what our prevention work is focused on.

And I'll turn it over to Dr. Tharp to speak more on that.

DR. THARP: Thank you, ma'am. So really, I think the data do point us in different directions about not only what can increase the risk, but what also could be protective. And not only kind of keeping the liberties across -- or kind of keeping restrictions, I should say, across all of the class years, but how do you save folks out of that environment where they do have so few opportunities in a safe way that equips them with kind of communication skills and other healthy relationship skills? So I think it's also about transitioning so that they can have those liberties responsibly, and that there may be opportunities in looking at how that transition is occurring right now, rather than kind of painting across all of the class years the same restrictions, although in some cases, we may also find that that's protective. 

STAFF: Okay, thanks. Thanks, Meghann.

Luis Martinez, ABC News?

Q: Hi. Thanks for your patience. I had to find the unmute button.

A couple of questions, if I could, I didn't hear the word "alcohol" mentioned in this presentation. Can you talk about that? And can you talk about how the efforts at trying to reduce alcohol consumption in the force may or may not be having an impact? I remember West Point had a stand-down day back about, I think, four years ago. Is there any correlation to the drop that we're seeing in their reporting? Thanks.

DR. GALBREATH: Yeah, so Luis, I'm going to turn it over to Dr. Ashlea Klahr to answer that.

DR. KLAHR: Sure. So you will see in the report we do take a close look at the role of alcohol in these situations, and we do see that for situations involving women that 61 percent of those unwanted sexual contacts involved alcohol. For men victims, it's 58 percent, and this is alcohol involvement on the part of either the victim and/or the offender.

And also importantly, on the survey, we're not capturing level of intoxication, just whether or not there was some alcohol involvement. So this could be, you know, a -- a person had one beer, or you know, severely intoxicated, or anything in between. But we do know that alcohol is involved in more than half of these situations when we look across the board.

We also see really different fact patterns depending on whether or not alcohol was involved, and that kind of information is really helpful, again, for thinking about informing the prevention efforts and understanding the different types of situations and providing prevention efforts that sort of appropriately target the different types of risk that arises in different types of situations that either involve alcohol or do not involve alcohol.

I'm going to turn it over to Dr. Tharp to expand a bit more on how the alcohol information is being leveraged in the prevention planning and actions moving forward.

DR. THARP: Thank you, Dr. Klahr. So, a key recommendation of the IRC was to look more closely at how the department can leverage alcohol policy. The IRC recognized that in civilian communities, alcohol policy is often used to decrease access and availability of alcohol, which then decreases overconsumption, and then in civilian communities, has shown that it can also reduce a range of harmful behaviors. And I think we see that addressing this is also a key theme of the suicide prevention and response IRC report.

So we are working to implement that recommendation to -- to stand up an office at the OSD level that really can take a look at what opportunities we have with alcohol policy not only at the department level, but also locally to really match that policy to the unique context of each military community. Over.

Q: I have a quick follow-up. When it comes to the significant jump in incidents from freshman year to sophomore year, I mean, can you provide really a very brief just quick-look answer as to why that -- well, what the possible explanation is for that?

DR. GALBREATH: What we can say is that as a freshman, cadets live a very cloistered life. There's a lot of restriction on movement and freedom. And when you become a sophomore, there's a lot more liberty that you have, abilities to go off base more often and things like that.

And so, we think that it's that significant change from condition from freshman to sophomore that exposes people to more risk. Over.

Q: So then is it fair to ask then why not institute the same policies for freshmen for all four years?

DR. GALBREATH: That approach would certainly seem like it might have some benefit. However, we also have to be realistic about teaching people how to have healthy relationships, how to navigate that risk, and how to maximize protective factors that are going to keep them safe throughout not only their military career but their life as well.

And so, this is why we have to, at some point, be able to say "here are some things that we can do in order to help everyone manage risk and set the tone for the most healthy environments possible.

So overall, it would be unrealistic for us to lock everyone down like this for their four years there, but we do have to find the right balance of what the risk and protective factors are, and that's some of the work that we'll be doing this spring and this summer, when we're there on our site visits. 

Q: Thank you.

Q: Hi, this is Rose. Can I jump in in their place and ask a question?

STAFF: Yes, Rose, go ahead.

Q: Thank you. I'm curious about how receptive leadership is at the service academies to institute this. I've been talking to some folks who have tried to come forward -- you know, cadets, other, you know, veterans -- who wanted to talk to them about implementing policies specifically at the Air Force Academy, where the Agenda for Change was put into place 20 years ago and some of those things still haven't happened.

So I guess how receptive are they to making these changes when it seems like changes from 20 years ago still haven't happened?

MS. FOSTER: Yeah, absolutely. So Rose, what I can say is that, you know, we've engaged extensively with the military academy superintendents and other military leadership on this report and on this issue.

And, you know, our perception is they absolutely want to get after this problem. The challenge is that they don't always know the right steps to take or, you know, because the science and data has evolved so much in this space in recent years, they need new tools and capabilities to get after this.

And so that's where we come in and that's what we're working really closely with them on, is making sure that the programs that they're putting in place are effectively targeting the risk at the academies and are getting after this problem, and that's a lot of what we're going to be looking at during our on-site installation evaluations that we're doing this spring.

And I would say, you know, we've had really great reception from the leaderships at the academies. They've really opened their doors and -- and are looking forward to our team doing a deep look at what's happening on the ground there.

STAFF: Do you have a follow-up, Rose?

Q: I might have missed this earlier but how involved are you in talking to students when you go to those installation visits?

MS. FOSTER: Very involved. Cadets and mids, those are the folks that we want to hear from. And so, we'll be engaging in an extensive number of focus groups with that population to see what's going on.

Q: Thank you.