A new policy released Feb. 8 by the Department of Defense is meant to prevent future cases of harassment in the military.
“Harassment Prevention and Response in the Armed Forces” takes effect immediately, according to a DOD news release last week.
The policy is comprehensive, addressing various types of harassment for service members, with sexual harassment and harassment through social media included among the topics.
The policy is intended to provide an atmosphere of dignity and respect and an environment free from discrimination, harassment and assault, to increase the readiness and lethality of the armed forces.
Fort Hood officials have not yet implemented the harassment policy, which asks each DOD component head “to provide an implementation plan outlining steps and milestones in order to comply with this instruction.”
How Fort Hood will handle that implementation remains unclear.
“It would be inappropriate for Fort Hood to comment on a policy that has not yet been implemented,” said Christopher Haug, chief of media relations for III Corps and Fort Hood Public Affairs.
Fort Hood had 144 reported cases of sexual assault in 2015, 175 cases in 2014 and 193 total cases in 2013. The number of sexual assault cases at Fort Hood in 2016 and 2017 have not been released.
The emphasis of the new policy is that the U.S. armed forces does not tolerate harassment by any service member, in any form.
The new policy replaces older directives on sexual harassment.
It provides new procedures for all types of harassment prevention and response.
The text calls for increased leadership commitment and accountability, as well as providing resources and requirements to protect service members.
“Harassment is a part of a continuum of behaviors that have no place in our workforce. The policy issued today brings us one step closer to eliminating these behaviors from the Department of Defense. My focus on this is unwavering,” said Robert L. Wilkie, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.