The Military Isn't Fully Documenting Dismissals of Troops Who Claim Sexual Assault
More than two-thirds of military service members who reported sexual assaults and were later discharged were let go without proper documentation of alleged non-disability mental conditions, the Pentagon watchdog found in a new report.
More than one-fifth of the dismissals were done with incomplete documentation, which impedes the Defense Department’s ability to analyze trends in the handling of sexual assault, according to a report released Tuesday by the Pentagon Inspector General’s Office. Poor documentation also violates troops' rights to have an accurate record of their service, the report said.
Of the four major services, only the Air Force fully adhered to departmental policy on applying proper codes to the records of service members who were dismissed for conditions such as personality disorder, adjustment disorder, disruptive behavior or impulse control disorder.
Under the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, each service must document reasons for discharging a member who has reported a sexual assault. Interviews with senior military personnel administrators from each service showed that 239 (67 percent) of the 355 separation records available were not completed in accordance with a departmental directive; 108 (22 percent) of 498 separation records requested from the services were either missing or incomplete and could not be evaluated; and the services failed to complete 254 (72 percent) of the requisite forms.
The inspector general recommended that the undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness evaluate the necessity of including separation codes on service members’ forms, and that the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, ensure all records are available, accurate and complete.
Department officials largely agreed, though the Army, Navy and Marine officials did not respond to requests for comments on a draft of the report.