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Letter: End Military Hazing in NDAA

September 9, 2016
Press Release

PASADENA, CA – Today, 14 Members of Congress, led by Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees urging them to preserve anti-hazing provisions passed by the House in the final version of the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The provisions included in the House NDAA originate from H.R. 5060, the Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act that was introduced by Rep. Chu on April 26. The Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act is named in honor of Rep. Chu’s nephew, a marine who took his own life after being hazed by his platoon while deployed in Afghanistan in 2011. The legislation adopts the recommendations from a report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which showed that the DOD lacks consistent data on military hazing incidents, and that servicemembers across branches are in need of better training to combat hazing.

The letter comes just one day after the Marine Corps Times released a report on the death of 20-year-old recruit Raheel Siddiqui, citing “a troubling pattern of mistreatment” of recruits at Parris Island. Rep. Chu released the following statement:

“We know from official reports, personal experience, and the concerns of constituents that hazing in the military is an ongoing and real problem for our men and women in uniform. Raheel Siddiqui’s death is just the latest tragedy,” said Rep. Chu. “But without adequate reporting, we cannot understand the full scope of the problem or how to best address it. This system is failing our men and women in uniform and their families. Fortunately, the House has acted to help us understand and curb this problem. Now it’s time to see it to the finish line. I’m glad many of my colleagues joined me in supporting the inclusion of this language in the final report.”

BACKGROUND

In 2011, Rep. Chu’s nephew, Lance Corporal Harry Lew, committed suicide while stationed in Afghanistan after extreme and prolonged hazing by his fellow Marines. Since his death, Rep. Chu has fought to eradicate hazing in the military. During the 112th Congress, Rep. Chu introduced the Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act, which would require DOD to develop a comprehensive plan to address hazing within the ranks. In the FY2013 NDAA, Rep. Chu secured language that required reports from each branch of the military to report on hazing policies and incident data to Congress. Finding that these results were inconsistent and indicated substandard tracking results in unreliable data, Rep. Chu successfully amended the FY 2015 NDAA to require GAO to provide an objective analysis about the current status of hazing in the military. In March 2016, Rep. Chu testified before the House Armed Services Committee to urge the adoption of the GAO’s recommendations in the FY 2017 NDAA.

Rep. Chu’s amendment, which was offered during the House Armed Services Committee’s markup of NDAA in April, would do the following:

  • Require DOD to submit an annual report to Congress to ensure anti-hazing policies are implemented consistently.
  • Require DOD to improve existing training to help servicemembers better identify and respond to hazing at all command levels.
  • Mandate that DOD issue a department-wide guidance on a comprehensive and consistent data collection system that includes information on protected classes such as race and religion.
  • Evaluate the prevalence of hazing through department-wide surveys.