Army Establishes Two New Initiatives to Combat Harmful Behaviors [U.S. Army Public Affairs, 14 July 2022]
The Army has implemented two new initiatives to further remove the barriers on combating harmful behaviors and sustain positive command climates. The Safe-to-Report policy safeguards sexual assault victims from disciplinary action for minor collateral misconduct that might be in time, place, or circumstance associated with the sexual assault incident. The Office of Special Trial Counsel is an independent prosecution office that will be dedicated to the investigation, referral and trial-level litigation and prosecution of covered offenses such as murder, rape and child abuse. The Army’s military justice reforms are well underway and the Army will continue to identify ways to implement improvements to investigation and prosecution of covered offenses.
Hawaii museum revisits history of gender-fluid healers [Audrey McAvoy, The Associated Press, 8 July 2022]
More than 500 years ago, Hawaiians placed four boulders on a Waikiki beach to honor visitors from the court of Tahiti’s king who had healed the sick. They were “mahu,” which in Hawaiian language and culture refers to someone with dual male and female spirit and a mixture of gender traits. The stones were neglected for many years, as Christian missionaries and other colonizing Westerners suppressed the role of mahu in Hawaiian society. At one point a bowling alley was built over the boulders. Officials restored the stones multiple times since the 1960s but informational plaques installed next to them omitted references to mahu. The stones and the history of the four healers now are featured in an exhibit at Bishop Museum in Honolulu. The display highlights the deep roots of gender fluidity in Polynesia. Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu is mahu and one of the exhibit’s curators. She said the healers were revered for their skill and hopes their story will show children in Hawaii that “proper Hawaiian culture” doesn’t pass judgment against those “who have elements of duality.”
Air Force strengthens policy to kick out sexual assaulters [Scott Maucione, Federal News Network, 4 July 2022]
The Department of the Air Force is strengthening its process for discharging airmen and guardians who commit sexual assault, as the service continues to try to banish sex crimes from its ranks. The new policy states that service members who commit sexual assault will be subject to immediate initiation of discharge procedures. Only in very few circumstances can an airman or guardian be considered for an exception. Those exceptions are what DAF is updating; under previous policy there were more situations where assaulters would have an opportunity to stay in the service. Exceptions are now strengthened for and bar exceptions when an airman or guardian assaults a child or if that person has a prior assault or harassment charge. There are also factors that DAF will no longer consider when making an exception. Those include personal, family or financial circumstances, good military character and medical or mental health condition
Team Investigating Racial Disparity in Military Justice Embarks on Installation Visits [C. Todd Lopez, DOD News Service, 7 July 2022]
In May, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks directed the creation of an internal review team to look into the root causes of racial disparities in the military’s investigative and justice systems. Now, members of that team have embarked on conducting a series of listening sessions and visits to military installations to undertake the work that will help them deliver a final report to the deputy secretary. In the memorandum, the internal review team was given three months to look into the root causes of racial disparities in the investigative and military justice systems. “The review will provide actionable recommendations that the Department can implement to improve policies, programs, processes and resources to address these disparities,” Hicks said of the team’s work. The team began work June 1 and will deliver the findings to Hicks by August 24.
Department of the Navy Implements Policy to Protect Sexual Assault Victims from Discipline [U.S. Navy Public Affairs, 30 June 2022]
The Department of the Navy implemented a Safe-to-Report Policy for victims of sexual assault on June 29, eliminating a critical barrier to service member reporting of sexual assault. Effective immediately, a sailor, Marine, cadet or midshipman who makes an unrestricted report of sexual assault through the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office or the Family Advocacy Program will not be disciplined for minor collateral misconduct. Prior to implementation, there was no policy to protect victims from disciplinary action associated with their own misconduct in connection to an alleged assault. As a result, victims may have had to choose whether to implicate themselves for misconduct by reporting an assault. The policy also requires data collection for the Department to understand how frequently these protections are being utilized and under what circumstances.
Army Swiftly Backpedals on Policy Dropping High School Diploma Requirement [Steve Beynon, Military.com, 30 June 2022]
After only a week, the Army has swiftly reversed a new policy that would have allowed potential recruits to enlist into the force without a high school diploma or GED, according to an internal memo reviewed by Military.com and confirmed by a spokesperson. On June 23, the service said that it would drop the requirement for completing high school under the condition that enlistees quickly ship out to boot camp, setting a deadline of Oct. 1 to begin training. However, the move was met with some mockery online and accusations of it being a desperate measure, lowering standards to fill in the ranks wherever the Army could.