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Hagel, Obama Urge Military Academy Grads To Help End Sexual Assaults

Submitted by on May 25, 2013 – 3:39 pmOne Comment

Speaking at the commencements of the Naval and Military academies respectively this week, President Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel both told graduating officers that sexual assaults in the armed forces is an epidemic that must end. The declarations came in a month full of embarrassing revelations, including recent new charges against a sergeant at West Point.

Hagel told cadets at the US Military Academy in West Point, NY that “sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military are a profound betrayal of sacred oaths and sacred trusts” which must be “stamped out.” He also urged the graduates to be the generation who help end epidemics of suicide and drug abuse which are also plaguing the armed forces.

At the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, the president said sexual assault even qualifies as a threat to national security, challenging “the trust and discipline that makes our military strong.”

Obama also referenced many high-profile scandals that have hit his administration recently, saying “the misdeeds of some” have shaken citizen confidence in important institutions.

On May 14, Sfc. Michael McClendon was charged with several counts involving photographing and videotaping female cadets at West Point without their knowledge, including in the bathroom.

Just a week before that, the head of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention and response group was arrested for sexually assaulting a woman in a parking lot.

That happened just a day before the Pentagon released new statistics showing a six percent increase in annual sexual assaults. An estimated 26,000 occurred in the military last year, but only 3,374 were reported.

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