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Media Roundtable on Annual Report of Sexual Assault in the Military

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Perfect.  If you're — if you're ready, we can go ahead and get started here.  We have about 45 minutes for this interview.  And it will be on the record, so it will be attributable by name.  And then I will go ahead and pass it over to Ms. Foster, who will have some opening remarks, and we'll go from there.

BETH FOSTER:  Great.  All right.  Well, good morning, everyone.  This is Beth Foster.  I'm the executive director of the Office of Force Resiliency.  Thank you all so much for joining us today.  And we are here today to brief you on the F.Y. '23 annual report on sexual assault in the military.

I am joined today by Dr. Nate Galbreath, who is the acting director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office and Dr. Andra Tharp, who is the director of the Violence Prevention Cell.

As Grace mentioned, I'll just provide a few quick opening comments and then turn it over to the team to dive into the details of the report.

As you have likely seen, we are looking at some positive indicators in this year's report.  For the first time in nearly 10 years, the department is seeing a decrease in sexual assault prevalence.  The department estimates that nearly 7,000 fewer service members experienced sexual assault 2023 than in 2021, the last year the department measured this.

That is 7,000 people that will not have to deal with the scourge of this crime.  As you know, the department's leadership has made this a top priority issue and has been deeply committed to this work.  And that work is starting to bend the curve.

Secretary Austin came into office on day one and pledged to do more to prevent sexual assault.  In February 2021 he launched the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military, or the IRC.  In September 2021 the Secretary approved all 82 recommendations and directed the department to complete implementation by fiscal year 2028.

Since that time, the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of defense have closely overseen implementation of these reforms.  But this leadership commitment hasn't been an empty promise.  The department has also made a significant resource investment in this work.  In F.Y. '23 and F.Y. '24, with Congress's support, the department has nearly doubled the funding for sexual assault prevention and response.

As an example, in fiscal year 2024, the department is spending over $1 billion on this mission.  This investment not only ensures that we're taking care of our service members, but this investment in building healthy climates helps the department recruit and maintain a more ready and resilient force.

Now, the data we're going to share with you today marks the department's first assessment of progress since the implementation of the recommendations of the IRC began in earnest.

And while it's impossible for us to know exactly why we're seeing this decrease in sexual assault prevalence, we are cautiously optimistic that the department's unprecedented investment is having an impact, particularly when it comes to our focus on prevention and building healthy climates.

But I want to be really clear.  We have a lot more work to do.  We need to continue to focus on driving down these numbers.  We cannot take our eye off the ball.  We must continue to focus on this, if this change is going to be enduring.  We cannot sustain this trend if we do not redouble our efforts to implement the historic IRC reforms.

We must continue to focus on supporting the standup of the Offices of Special Trial Counsel, the biggest change to the UCMJ in over 50 years.  We must continue to build the dedicated and specialized prevention workforce, and we must focus on professionalizing our existing sexual assault response workforce.

This year's results indicate that change in this space is possible, but only if we continue to focus on that all levels of the department.  We owe it to our service members to continue our work to eliminate sexual assault from our ranks.

So with that, let turn it over to Dr. Galbreath, who is going to walk through the details of the report.

DR. NATE GALBREATH:  Good morning, everyone.  Before we get started, I'm going to, on slide number two that you have, I'm going to just give you a little information about the scientific survey that the department conducted.

The fielding period for this survey was in — from July, the end of July to November of 2023.  And we asked participants to recall their experiences in the 12 months prior to being surveyed.  We sent out the survey to a sample in both the active-duty and the reserve component as well.

The results are weighted to represent the full force.  And as you can see on the trend line at the bottom of the slide, you can see that there was a statistically significant decrease in unwanted sexual contact for women and a trend downward for men, but that change was not statistically significant.

And when we talk about unwanted sexual contact, we're talking about the range of crimes in the UCMJ, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice, that represent the crimes that constitute sexual assault.  And in that top call-out box up into the right on the screen, I'm going to show you some of the types of crimes that we notice statistically significant changes.

So if you take a look at the way that we formulate the question allows us to break out the three types of crime, penetrative types of crime; attempted penetrative types of crime; and then also non-penetrative, or touching types of crime.

And as you can see in the column labeled 2023 for women, the statistically significant changes that we saw were driven by decreases in both penetrative and attempted penetrative types of crime.

Overall, that, as Ms. Foster noted, we're able to use these rates to create point estimates for the number of individuals we estimate are impacted by sexual assault.  So this year that number translates to about 29,000 active-duty members.  That's about 15,000 women and almost 14,000 men.  And this is down from the 36,000, about, that we estimated in 2021.

I'm going to go ahead to the next slide and show you a little bit about how these rates break out by military service.  As you can see — this is on slide number three.  You can see that the statistically significant decrease that we saw for women was largely driven by decreases for Navy women and for Air Force women.  While it — the trend lines are headed in the right direction for Marine Corps and for Army, those were not statistically significant changes.

Also, a feature of this year's survey, we were able to capture initial rates for the Space Force, and that's that single dot that you see for women there, so we — we'll be watching that trend going forward over time.

As you see down below, for men, while again, the rates headed downward or stayed about the same, there were no statistically-significant differences there.

For the Reserve component, survey results indicated that there were no changes for men or women in rates of unwanted sexual contact.  However, we did observe a statistically-significant decrease in unwanted sexual contact rates for National Guard women.

Moving to the next slide, I'm going to talk about the rates of sexual harassment.  This metric captures both behaviors associated with sexual harassment and the conditions under which they occur.  So the types of behaviors that we ask respondents to tell us about are things like quid pro quo, sexual jokes and comments or unwanted sexual attention, and then also, the conditions under which those experiences were, if they were persistent, severe or a reasonable person would have believed that those behaviors had really stepped out of bounds.  And also, these experiences also had to happen to the individual to whom — that were answering the question.

So overall, as you can see, we saw a decrease in DOD rates of sexual harassment, and these were for women, and these were driven largely by statistically-significant decreases in rates for Army, Navy and Marine Corps women.  There was no change for Air Force women.

Down below are sexual harassment rates for men.  As you can see, there was also a statistically-significant decrease overall, mostly driven by a change in — in rates for Army men.

One of the things that's interesting about the point estimate for sexual harassment is, is that when we calculate how many people these rates represent, we find that we have more men experiencing sexual harassment in the force than we do women, largely based on the fact that the services are about 80 percent male and about 20 percent female.  And so as a result, just by the composition of the force, we end up having — while women are at greater risk of sexual harassment, we have more male victims.

Moving to the next slide, and I'm going to hand it — now that I've talked a little bit about sexual harassment as one of our high — primary risk factors for sexual assault, and Dr. Tharp is going to talk about that and other risk factors associated with sexual assault.

DR. ANDRA THARP:  Thank you.  Good morning.

So on slide five, we looked at how aspects of the climate in which service members live and work are associated with unwanted sexual contact.  Changes in these factors give us clues about what may be contributing to the decrease in prevalence.

Over the past several years, the department's data has shown that certain factors increase the risk for unwanted sexual contact, and that by decreasing those factors, we can decrease the likelihood of sexual assault.  Indeed, this year's data show decreases in key climate factors for both men and women.

On the left-hand side of the slide, we show the percentage of respondents that reported each climate factor.  As discussed earlier, we saw significant decreases in sexual harassment for both men and women.  We also saw significant decreases in the climate that tolerates sexual harassment.  Here, lower numbers are better, and we saw decreases for both men and women.  We also saw significant decreases in gender discrimination for women, but no change for men.

Finally, we look at the perception that leaders and peers actively support intervening when there are concerning situations or behaviors that could give rise to unwanted sexual contact.  Here, we saw overall that leaders' support for intervention is seen more favorably than peers', but we saw significant improvements for both men and women in perceptions of peers' support for intervention, and no change for perceptions of leaders' support for intervention.

So the data on the right-hand side showed decreases in several key risk factors for unwanted sexual contact.  The data on the right-hand side show that these aspects of climate did, in fact, function as risk factors.

Using data from the survey, we calculated how these risk factors influence the likelihood of experiencing unwanted sexual contact.  So for example, women who reported sexual harassment were 12 times more likely to also report unwanted sexual contact.  This pattern was even more pronounced for men who, if they experienced sexual harassment, were over 40 times more likely to also experience unwanted sexual contact.  These findings underscore the central role of climate in either increasing or decreasing the likelihood of harmful behaviors like sexual assault.

This is one reason that creating healthy climates is the foundation of the integrative prevention work that the department has been undertaking over the past several years.  So for example, we've hired over a thousand of the prevention workforce.  We've created the first-of-its-kind credential to professionalize and standardize the workforce.  In 2022, we issued policy that shifted oversight of the command climate assessment process to the prevention workforce to advise leaders on indicators like this that need attention.  And finally, we've continued to advance our analytic capability to identify clear leading indicators at local levels across harmful behaviors to increase visibility and enable leaders to take action more quickly.  That's why it's encouraging from a prevention perspective not only see — to see changes in prevalence, but also changes in these climate factors.

So with that, I'll turn it back to Dr. Galbreath.

DR. GALBREATH:  Moving on to the next slide, slide number six, I'm going to tell you a little bit about satisfaction rates with the services that people used when they made a report.  So these results are for women who experienced unwanted sexual contact and made a report about it to a DOD authority.  We're only showing women here because it's — we just didn't have enough men in this response category to be able to generate responses for them that were statistically-stable.

How to read this slide is to — over on the left-hand side on the Y-axis is the a measure of resource use; in other words, what percentage of people used the resource that's listed there.  And then in addition to that, across the bottom is their overall rate of satisfaction.  So farther to the right is greater satisfaction.  Where we'd like to see most people is in that upper-right-hand quadrant where you see measures for the sexual assault response coordinators, or SARCs, for unit victim advocates, or V.A.s, or UVAs, and also, our Special Victims Counsel and Victim's Legal Counsel.

While overall, the response rates are more favorable the measures of resource satisfaction are more favorable for our SARCs and our V.A.s and our Special Victims Counsel, we know we have a lot more work to do because overall, these rates did not change from 2021.  As a result, many of the Independent Review Commission recommendations are targeting improvements in skills and full-time professionalization of our Sexual Assault Response Workforce, which are sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates.

Moving to the next slide, on slide number seven, I am — give you some measures that went out to all the people that were taking this survey.  These metrics on the left-hand side were actually picked by the department over a decade ago as measures to follow over time to determine how well we're doing with people with regard to whether or not people trust us to protect their privacy, their safety, and their dignity and respect.

And as you can see over time, we've had some relatively stable results until 2021, and then this year, we had a uptick in all three of these measures for both men and women that were statistically significant.

So what this essentially tells us is that we've got more work to do, but we are — also cautiously optimistic that the changes and the reforms that the department is undertaking is having a desired impact with regard to people's trust in the system that we have.

On the right-hand side of the slide, you'll see some measures of about how people rate their supervisors with regard to whether they can trust their supervisors, whether or not they believe that all assigned personnel are treated fairly by their supervisor, and their performance is rated fairly as well.

And as you can see, there were small but statistically significant increases for each of these measures for men and for women.  Again, there is much more to do, but again, that's a factor that we believe is showing some positive turns in leadership focus on this very important mission space.

Next slide, slide number eight, will show you a little bit of data over time here that will help you understand kind of where we have been.  Again, we're at — as a jurisdiction, we're the only jurisdiction in the country that can essentially show you a estimate — a — from a scientific survey that shows you essentially our prevalence or the scope of the problem within the department, as well as the number of reports that come in.

And so across the top of the slide, what you're seeing is those diamonds are our point estimates over time.  Our dotted line across the top of that slide is our baseline from 2006, when we started measuring unwanted sexual contact within the department.

In 2021, you'll notice that the 36,000 almost people that we estimated experienced USC at that given year was much higher than our baseline in 2006.  This year's measurement of about 29,000 personnel is now back down below that.  Nevertheless, while that's promising, we have much more work to do to continue to move ahead and prevent this crime.

Across the bottom of the graph, you'll see the red line with the number of service member reports to a DOD authority.  Those service member reports could be either restricted or unrestricted report of sexual assault.

And as you notice, there were about 7,266, and that represents about 25 percent of all of the people that were impacted by unwanted sexual contact this year.  The math is just simple, it's 7,266 divided by about 29,000, and it gives us a measurement of about 25 percent.  So that's our reporting rate, and that's up from 20 percent in 2021.

Certainly not the highest it's been — several years ago, we were seeing about one-third of service members impacted by sexual assault reporting to a DOD authority — but these numbers of reports are not all of the reports the department receives.  And in the bottom right-hand box, you can see the remaining reports that, Congress requires us to report on.

So for example, in addition to the 7,266 service members who reported a sexual assault, there were also 541 service member reports for incidents that occurred prior to service and also 612 reports from civilians and foreign national who alleged a sexual assault perpetrated by a service member.  All total, about 8,515 reports to the department.  That's the third highest number of reports that we've received on record.

With that, I'm going to turn it back over to Ms. Foster.

MS. FOSTER:  So if you go to slide nine, in addition to releasing the F.Y. '23 annual report on sexual assault in the military, the department is also releasing the academic program year '22 to 2023 Military Service Academy Sexual Violence report.

The military service academy report does not contain sexual assault prevalence.  This report is off cycle with where we are with the report on the active and reserve component.  So when we released this report on the military service academies last year, that report contained sexual assault prevalence.  When we release this report next year, that report will also contain sexual assault prevalence.  But this year, the report is focused on sexual assault reporting.

Now, as you all know, last year, when the Military Service Academy Report was released and showed an increase in sexual assault prevalence at the academies, the Secretary of Defense directed our team to do on-site installation evaluations at the academy.

The report from that review was released in August of 2023, and I know we had the opportunity to brief you all on that at the time. Accompanying that report was a memo from the Secretary of Defense that directed a number of significant actions to the military departments to transform the climate at the service academies.

Now, again, next year, we'll have a look at sexual assault prevalence at the military service academies, but in terms of reporting, in terms of what we saw for cadets and midshipmen coming for — forward to make an unrestricted or restricted report, we saw that that number of reports did decrease at the academies in this academic program year, but we don't know if this represents a decrease in prevalence until we see next year's report.

So then if you go to slide 10, I'll just close this with where we started, which is that, you know, the department is cautiously optimistic that this year's survey results and the decrease in prevalence reflects the impact of the unprecedented actions that this Secretary has taken in this space; but we know that we've got a lot more work to do and we need to redouble our efforts and our focus on implementing the IRC's recommendations, in particular with a focus on the standup of the office of Special Trial Counsel, the prevention workforce, and of course professionalizing our sexual assault response workforce.

So with that, we look forward to taking your questions.

MODERATOR: Please limit your questions to one question and one follow-up.  First up is Konstantin from

Q:  Thanks, everybody.  So in — in listening to your presentation, it sounds like command climate plays a significant role in the prevalence of these incidents and as a follow-on effect also, how many of these things get reported — how many of these incidents get reported.

As you, sort of, intimated that there's a lot of work to go forward and the efforts are ongoing, can you speak to what some of the, you know, approaches you guys are going to take in the future to address command climate, as it relates to sexual assault?

MS. FOSTER:  Yeah, absolutely.  And that's a great question.  So what I'd offer is a lot of our work in this space focuses on continuing to build and institutionalize the primary prevention workforce.

And that prevention workforce is focused on exactly what you — what you are hinting at, which is it's focused on getting far to the left of the incident of sexual assault and also other harmful behaviors like suicide or domestic violence, getting far to the let an focusing on the common risk factors within that — that community and that organization and the common protective factors that can contribute to that harmful behavior.  And that workforce is focused on identifying, assessing and ultimately driving down those risk factors.

So our prevention workforce, we've hired about 40 percent of the workforce thus far.  That's over 1,000 personnel.  But we're working towards 2,500 personnel by F.Y. '28.  And so a lot of our focus is going to be bringing those folks on board but then making sure that, once they are on board, that there's continued engagement between them and — and the leadership they're supporting, and that we're continuing to make sure that they've got the tools and resources that they need to do their jobs.

So let me turn it to Dr. Tharp, if there's anything to add there.

DR. THARP:  Sure, thank you.

The other thing that we're doing is revamping the tools — and giving leaders more tools to monitor and address climate issues that they detect. So A couple of years ago, the — the Defense Organizational Climate Survey was completely revamped to now being 19 leading indicators of harmful behaviors like sexual assault, harassment, suicide, as well as readiness and retention.

But what we heard from leaders is they wanted even more tools to get a quicker sense of how their climates were doing.  So earlier this year we launched a climate poll survey, which allows those leaders to get that more real-time feedback to assess how their climate is improving.

We've also heard that there was a gap in, kind of, what do we do?  Once we get this data, what actions do we take?  How do we know if those actions had the intended impact?

So we've also implemented a comprehensive integrated prevention plan that really summarizes the findings of the Command Climate Assessment, what research-based actions leaders will take and then how it's going to be evaluated so that we can adjust course as needed, using these additional tools.

Q:  Gotcha.  And just a, sort of, slightly unrelated follow-on, I noticed in the presentation you guys talked about, sort of, the overall reporting rate and that, you know, the high watermark was, sort of, around a third of incidents would get reported, but it's, sort of, dipped down a little bit.

Can you just, sort of, speak to that trend line and what you guys attribute that to?

MS. FOSTER:  Yeah, I'm going to pass it to Dr. Galbreath to speak on that in more detail.

DR. GALBREATH:  Overall, you know, we're trying to reach people where they are.  And that's essentially what the Sexual Assault Prevention Response Program is designed to do, is to give people choices associated with how they — report and also what kind of services they use to get on the road to recovery.

While we don't really have a good finger on the pulse of exactly why people tend to report or not, we do know that climates of trust, where people can see that victims of sexual assault are treated well when they come forward to make a report often encourage others to come forward and make a report, as well.  So those climate factors that Dr. Tharp talked about are exceptionally important when it comes to people assessing whether or not their report will be respected and they'll be treated with dignity when they come forward and ask for help.

Q:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Now to Sam LaGrone, USNI News.

Q:  Hi.  Good morning, y'all.  Since the implementation of the Special Trial Counsel, do y'all see any kind of trendlines in terms of more cases being referred to court-martial, less cases being referred to court-martial, just to get — for sexual assault, just to get kind of a sense of, you know, early days, how that's being foreseen by the force?  Thank you.

MS. FOSTER:  Yeah, Sam, that's a great question, and as you know, the Offices of Special Trial Counsel reached full operating capability on December 27th of 2023, so it's really only been a few months since those offices have been fully stood up and taken over these cases, so it's too early for us to know if there are any specific trends.  But next year when we release this report, we'll have a year's-worth of data to speak on that topic in much more detail.

MODERATOR:  Chris Gordon, Air & Space Magazine.

Q:  Hi.  Thank you for doing this.  You're seeing a decrease in sexual assault, but it seems many people still don't trust the system.  Looking at the data and looking at the slides for women, 38 percent trust the system to protect their privacy, 43 percent trust the system to treat them with dignity, 43 trust the system to ensure their safety.  So given all the work you're doing that you've — you've mentioned, and the new measures, why is trust in the system among women only about one-third percent?  That seems somewhat problematic.  What can you do to improve that?  And why is — why is that the case, do you think?

MS. FOSTER:  Yeah, so I think there are — I'll offer a couple things here, and then turn it over to Dr. Galbreath.  But we know we have a lot more work to do to rebuild trust, especially amongst our service women.  And that is one thing that the IRC talked about significantly, is how do we rebuild that trust? And we're pursuing that in a couple of different ways.

First, of course, with the standup of the Office of Special Trial Counsel by having independent and specialized prosecutors focused on this, our hope is that we can regain some trust amongst our victims so that they know that their cases are being treated independently and with the professional nature that is required of these crimes.

We're also focused on making changes to other elements of our sexual assault responses.  As Dr. Galbreath talked about in the briefing, we are focused on professionalizing our sexual assault response workforce.  A lot of these folks are performing that role in a collateral duty role, and while they may be very may be very dedicated to that — to that work, you know, victim assistance is a full-time job.

We also are focusing on making that workforce independent as well, because we know there have been instances in which our service members haven't trusted the people, the victim advocates that they need to trust to take care of them because they've been aligned with command.

And so a lot of those changes are underway, but we know it's going to take some time before we start to see those numbers shift.

Q:  I think you covered it, ma'am.  I'm good.  Yeah.

MODERATOR:  Next, Lita Baldor, A.P.

Q:  Hi.  Good morning.  I have two things.  One, I saw the overall totals for the Military Service Academies.  Can we get, or is there somewhere, the charts that show the data for each individual academy, and how their actual reporting went?  And then secondly, obviously, when we talked to you all late last year, there was a pretty broad condemnation of the toxic sort of leadership at some of the academies and some ongoing problems there.  Can you address how many visits you've done, or whoever have done to the academies, and what changes may be either in progress or — or sort of getting teed up now to address some of those problems?

MS. FOSTER:  Yeah, Lita, absolutely.  So first, in terms of individual reporting at the military service academies, we'd be happy to follow up with you.  I don't have that data right at my fingertips, but we'll make sure to get you those charts, and they're also included in the report which will be released later today.

In terms of visits to the academies, as — as you know, our team did an on-site installation evaluation at each academy in March of last year, which was really a data-driven look at, what is driving this increase in sexual assault, but also, you know, what is happening when it comes to other harmful behaviors at the academies?  And what our look reveals is that it — a lot of what is driving some of these problem is our overall climate issues, and — and it — some of the training environment at the academies potentially exacerbating some of these climate issues that we saw, which is exactly why Secretary Austin has been so focused on transforming climate at the academies.  And when he announced a number of reforms in August of 2023, one of the things that he did is also ask P&R to stand up a Climate Transformation Task Force which would take a look at — working across the military departments and the military service academies at how they are going to implement the reforms that he directed.

In terms of specific visits to the academies, our team has — did the visits in March.  We've also done a subsequent follow-up visit to the — to the Air Force Academy.  But I know that the military departments have been heavily-engaged.  Leadership of those departments and those services have made their own visits to the academies after the Secretary's announcement.  And so I'd defer to them to speak to in detail when those visits have occurred.

But we are continuing to oversee implementation of the actions the Secretary directed that are really focused on changing climate, making changes to the peer leadership structure, integrating prevention into the curriculum at the academies.  And I know that the military departments are on track to implement those reforms by August, 2025, which was directed by the Secretary of defense.

So let me turn it over to Dr. Tharp, if she has anything she wants to add.

DR. THARP:  The only thing I'd add is that through the Climate Transformation Task Force, the military departments have really taken a lead role aligning the training environments at the service academies with the broader improvements in training with the broader force.

So it's been exciting for us to see the innovation that the military to — departments have brought to those discussions, and I know they'd be — like Ms. Foster said, we defer to them to talk on the specific actions that they really have been driving on a lot of those changes that Secretary Austin directed.

DR. GALBREATH:  The service academy report, as well as the annual report, will appear on, S-A-P-R.M-I-L, at release time.

MODERATOR:  Okay.  We have Patty Nieberg, Task & Purpose.

Q:  Hi all.  Thank you so much.  I know a lot of the conversations we're having are focused on climate.  I'm wondering if you can comment on the recent IG report that kind of looked at the transfer policy for victims who want to change units after they've reported?  I'm wondering how you think the IG report's findings fit into kind of the climate issue overall and kind of what the department could be doing better in that space.

MS. FOSTER: Yeah, Patty, let me turn it to Dr. Galbreath to answer that question.

DR. GALBREATH:  We really appreciated the IG's look at this from a standpoint of this is a feature of our sexual assault prevention response program that we've had for well over a decade.  One of the things that they pointed out was some things that we needed to do with regard to better data keeping and things like that.

Overall, we agreed with most of the IG's recommendations.  However, the one that we took issue with was the fact that just because a move might take a — longer than 30 days, which is our standard in our policy, doesn't necessarily mean that there's a weakness in the system, and that's largely because our policy focus is on the choices of victims to be able to make those kinds of selections of options in our policy that allow them to recover the best.  So sometimes, 30 days might be too short for a victim to be able to move.  And so our policy allows that greater flexibility.

Now, that being said, we agree with the IG's findings that we should be able to document those circumstances where moves are taking longer than the standard so that we can follow up and understand, number one is are the wishes of victims being followed, and number two is are there any problems with — within the system that we need to correct?

Q:  And could you just comment on kind of the significance of victims needing to — or just, like, the importance of the transfer policy itself and kind of how it fits into service member, I guess, trust in the system?

DR. GALBREATH:  Absolutely.  So expedited transfers are moves that we, like I said, started up over a decade ago, and these were largely to help victims recover and improve their recovery so that they could get out of an environment where they felt uncomfortable and move to an environment where they might be — experience greater support.  And so as a result, that's a foundational piece of our program that allows people to get on the road to recovery a little bit sooner.

Overall, within our process, we want to make sure that all victims understand the implications of these moves and how they work, and that's why we're increasing and improving our sexual assault response workforce's capabilities and professionalization.

And we know that our full-time people are able to explain these options much better than our part-time or our collateral duty folks.  And so that's one of the reasons the Independent Review Commission recommended that we shift over to full-time personnel providing response services as opposed to those collateral, part-time duty folks.  Over.

Q:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  We have Dan from PBS NewsHour.

Q:  Thanks.  Secretary Austin's memo in 2022 called policies governing Offices of Special Trial Counsel says the lawyers in these units will be assigned for a fixed term of not less than three years and maybe — that may be renewed.

So if a lawyer is going to be in this Special Trial Counsel Office for three years, then their next assignment is something else, then how do you expect to really build up the cadre of seasoned and experienced lawyers if they're just going to be in this unit for three years and maybe one of their — and then that term gets renewed once more and then they move on?

DR. GALBREATH:  So this is Nate Galbreath.  One of the things that is the Offices of Special Trial Counsel are doing is trying to build their expertise over time.  So it's not necessarily that they would move outside those — those offices or those programs, and they're also trying to build a career path.

That being said, for more details on that, we would defer to the Office of General Counsel here in the DOD to be able to — to get into that a little bit more.  So we'd be happy to follow up with you on that.  Over.

Q:  Okay, thanks.  Yeah, I'd be happy to follow up with you on that too.

MODERATOR:  We'll — we'll take that for action.

And that's it for us today.  If you have any follow-up questions, feel free to reach out to us at