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Begich Discusses Urgency of Ending Sexual Assault in the Military with Gen. Carlisle

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and Air Force General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and Air Force General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle.

PHOTO: Courtesy of the Office of Senator Mark Begich

Discusses Ways to Protect Victims, Restore Justice

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich continued his efforts to crack down on sexual assault in the military when he met this week with the commander of U.S. Pacific Air Forces to discuss the urgency of obtaining justice for military sexual assault victims and restoring faith in America’s military justice system.

Begich pressed his case with Air Force General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle who oversees Air Force operations over half the globe in a command that supports 45,000 airmen. Carlisle is a former Third Wing Commander of Anchorage’s Elmendorf Air Force Base.

“General Carlisle is a welcome ally in the fight against military sexual assault and I was pleased we were able to discuss ways to protect victims, restore justice, and review the steps the Pacific Air Forces have taken to address this problem,” Begich said. “I look forward to continuing to work together on this issue to end sexual assault in the military for good.”

Sen. Begich was pleased to hear the Air Force has adopted the concept of a Victims Special Counsel, which would allow victims to access specially trained lawyers who can provide additional support in these sensitive cases.  The Victims Special Counsel is part of an effort to promote respect and dignity in the military judicial system.

Gen. Carlisle and Sen. Begich also had an in-depth discussion about Eielson Air Force Base’s future, the information gathered during the recent Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and Eielson’s ability to host the F-35, the next generation fighter aircraft. Noting Eielson's location, General Carlisle stressed his strategic assessment currently underway of Eielson is a key component in determining Eielson's future, in addition to the EIS. Begich and Carlisle discussed ways to make the base more economical to operate, including alternative energy sources and utilities options.

Begich is a strong supporter of legislation to prevent sexual assault and to help victims of sexual assault.  He recently co-sponsored the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act as well as The Ruth Moore Act of 2013, which would make disability benefits available for women veterans if they are suffering from PTSD or depression following a military-related sexual assault. Provisions of the Ruth Moore Act were included in the Senate Armed Services Committee Bill. Begich is also a co-sponsor of the Defense STRONG Act, which would strengthen protections for military assault victims to ensure crimes are reported without fear of retribution.  Begich also sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in May urging the DOD to address the problem of sexual assault in the military by enacting minimum sentences for sexual assault crimes.

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