FORT HOOD — After six months in office, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, visited Fort Hood for the first time on Tuesday.
After a tour of the post and lunch with soldiers fresh from a deployment to Afghanistan, Cruz addressed the media outside the main gate and vowed to continue the work of his predecessor, Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Last month, as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Cruz listened to testimony from the Army leadership about putting an end to sexual assault.
“For a young serviceman or servicewoman to be sexually assaulted is a gross violation of the trust we owe the men and women of this great nation who are risking everything to protect our freedoms and protect our security,” he said. “I fully expect to see a vigorous debate on the floor of the Senate so that we can maintain our military readiness, maintain chain of command, but at the same time do everything possible to ensure that victims of sexual assault are able to report crimes and able to do so free of any fear of retaliation, and ultimately we ensure from the commanders on down that sexual assault is something that won’t be tolerated.”
Cruz said he voted for an amendment by fellow committee member and New York Democrat, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, to remove the decision of bringing charges in a sexual assault case from the defendant’s chain of command to the hands of military judges and juries.
“There was a powerful argument raised on the other side, which was that we want to ensure that commanders are accountable and that moving the decision from the chain of command takes away the accountability,” Cruz said. “On the other side, there were significant arguments raised that doing so limits the willingness of victims of sexual assault to report those crimes, and indeed, the majority of allies of us such as Israel and Great Britain, when they removed the reporting from the chain of command, saw substantially higher reporting rates. That is essentially why I voted to support Sen. Gillibrand’s bill.”
In the end, the committee went the other direction, with committee chair Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., sending an amendment that would have a commander’s decision on sexual assault cases reviewed by the next level of command.
Cruz answered questions on other subjects, including the upcoming trial of the accused Fort Hood shooter, the backlog of claims at Veterans Affairs and the furloughs beginning at Fort Hood next week.
Read more about what Cruz had to say in the July 10 issue of the Fort Hood Herald.
Contact Rose L. Thayer at email@example.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.