January 24, 2013—the day Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey signed a memorandum allowing women to serve in combat for the first time in American military history—may one day be looked as a milestone for gender equality in the United States.
Unfortunately, today is not that day.
Instead, what should have been a day for celebration was overshadowed by testimony that preceded Panetta’s historic decree by 24 hours—a sworn declaration given to the House Armed Services Committee by Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh. In his testimony, Welsh reported that sexual assault in the Air Force had skyrocketed by 30 percent in 2012—from 614 to 796 documented cases.
“Calling these numbers unacceptable does not do the victims justice,” Welsh said. “The truth is, these numbers are appalling.”
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