Washington, DC – Today, the House of Representatives will vote to address military hazing as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32) who first called attention to military hazing after the death of her nephew, leading to a Congressional hearing and her bill, the Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act, released the following statement:
“A year and half ago, my life changed forever. Losing Harry opened my eyes to the prevalence of military hazing. In the months that followed, I heard more and more heartbreaking stories from service members who endured similar abuse. It became clear to me that I had to act to protect these heroes the military was ignoring.
“And today, Congress will take a critical step forward in ridding our military of hazing. Lawmakers in both parties are treating this issue with the seriousness it deserves. The hazing provisions in the NDAA go beyond what was expected. But let me be clear: there is still much to be done to stop this abhorrent behavior. Going forward, I will fight to make hazing a crime; I will hold each branch accountable for implementing the strongest hazing policies possible; and I will push for an outside report so we have an objective analysis of hazing in the military.”
Congresswoman Chu began speaking out about military hazing after losing her nephew, Lance Cpl. Harry Lew, to military hazing in April of 2011. Since then, she has aggressively confronted the military’s top brass about their efforts to address hazing and hold perpetrators accountable. Rep. Chu’s efforts led to the first Congressional hearing on abuse in over three decades. Her bill, the Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act, was the first piece of legislation that included provisions directly addressing hazing in the armed services. That bill was the precursor to the provisions included in the NDAA today.
The conference report of the NDAA requires a one-time report from each Armed Force to Congress that includes:
• An evaluation of the definition of hazing
• A discussion of the policies for preventing and responding to hazing incidents
• How the service tracks and reports incidents of hazing, including anonymously
• The scope of the problem of hazing within the branch
• The training on recognizing and preventing hazing
• The actions taken to prevent and respond to hazing incidents
• How the UCMJ addresses the prosecution of hazing perpetrators, and recommendations to changing the code to improve prosecution
• The feasibility of creating a hazing database