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Military Health System

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Recent Legislative Updates

In 2021, President Biden directed an independent review commission to examine the ways that sexual assault and harassment are managed in the military.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 included recommendations that emerged from the IRC report, which are discussed primarily in Section 532. Most changes focused on criminal-legal processes, including dedicating specialized prosecutors to sex crimes and making sexual harassment punishable by court-martial (Section 541; previously a non-criminal issue addressed by Equal Opportunity investigations). However, some changes also focused on victim services and data collection. Some important changes relevant to victim and mental health services include:

  • The Secretary of Defense is instructed to direct all military legal service providers to provide a list of approved civilian victim service organizations (Section 529D).
  • The Department of Defense is directed to establish a primary prevention workforce that addresses all forms of violence (Section 549B).
    • Primary prevention refers to a holistic approach to violence that acknowledges the shared risk and protective factors of self-directed harm and harmful or abusive acts.
  • Department of Defense Safe Helpline is authorized to receive official reports of sexual assault (Section 549H).

This list is not exhaustive and we recommend that individuals also review the IRC report and NDAA directly for more detailed information, which are linked above.

Last Updated: July 11, 2023
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