Military Hazing Amendment to NDAA Adopted By Armed Services Committee
Washington, D.C. – On April 27, during markup of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the House Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment requiring the Department of Defense (DOD) to create a national database of hazing incidents in the military and to submit an annual report on the DOD’s actions to stop hazing through training and response. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-14), is identical to the text of H.R. 5060, the Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act that was introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) on April 26. The Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act is named in honor of Rep. Chu’s nephew, a marine who died 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. Rep. Chu released the following statement:
“The House Armed Services Committee recognized the seriousness of hazing and rightfully included this critical amendment. I want to thank my colleague Rep. Jackie Speier for her role in securing this bill language during the markup. The changes proposed by the amendment will protect servicemembers who courageously serve our country by making it clear that hazing has no place in our military. Requiring DOD to create a database of hazing incidents and submit an annual report will bring much needed transparency and help Congress ensure accountability. The inclusion of this amendment in the defense authorization bill will help save lives, support our troops, and ensure a stronger military.”
The text of the Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability Act can be found here.
The report by the Government Accountability Office titled “Actions Needed to Increase Oversight and Management Information on Hazing Incidents Involving Servicemembers,” can be found here.
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.