members of congress call for hearings on military hazing

Following recent high-profile military hazing cases, members of the House of Representatives, family members of victims, and community organizations are calling for immediate action from the highest levels in the military to stop hazing: Lawmakers seek answers from military on hazing; issue personal for California congresswoman.

The issue hits particularly close to home for Rep. Judy Chu, whose nephew Lance Cpl. Harry Lew killed himself after being brutally hazed while serving in Afghanistan. She is among the lawmakers who are calling for Congressional hearings on the military's effort to prevent hazing. Here are some of the statements from last week's press conference:
Rep. Judy Chu (CA-32): "This is a call for justice. Too many patriotic young people, who only want to serve our country, are being harmed. The highest military officials must make eliminating hazing a top priority. They must stop pretending there is no problem. None of this will change until the Secretary of Defense commits to eradicate the culture of hazing that is so ingrained within our troops. Soldiers in positions of responsibility in the field must be made to feel that they should stop hazing when they see it, rather than encourage it, or turn the other way. The perpetrators of hazing must be punished."

Rep. Mike Honda (CA-15): "I want to thank my courageous friend and colleague, Congresswoman Chu, for calling this press conference on military hazing. Everything I know about the facts of this case tells me that the hand slap sentencing of Lance Corporal Jacoby is wrong. Clearly, the system at the Department of Defense to deal with hazing does not work. The tragic death of Harry Lew is an urgent call to action. The crucial issue of hazing in the military must be addressed immediately. The brave men and women of our armed services must serve within a system that guarantees their protection and their families' trust in their superiors.

"Lance Corporal Harry Lew's parents are my constituents. And our community has shared in their terrible loss. Many difficult questions still remain on this tragic incident, Private Danny Chen's case, and many similar hazing cases in the military. There is no doubt that the Lew and Chen families feel betrayed by our military, and I am sure this is the same for many other families and communities. We must restore that trust for their sake and for all of our military families.

"I know - from meeting with Harry Lew's parents - how much it meant to Harry to serve his nation in uniform. We must act now to ensure that the Department of Defense has effective diversity training and stricter enforcement policies to guarantee that our service members - no matter their background - are able to safely and honorably defend the citizens and the Constitution of the United States. We call on the House Committees on Armed Services and Oversight and Government Reform to take these warnings seriously and hold hearings in order to protect our brave service members from any future danger."
Last week, one of the Marines responsible for Harry Lew's death was sentenced to thirty days in jail and a reduction in rank. That's it. Rep. Chu called the ruling "a slap in the face." A second Marine faces his court martial this week, while a third will go to trial later. Let's continue to support and push for further awareness on this issue.

To view the letter that members of Congress set to the House Armed Services Committee, go here. To view the letter sent to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, go here.

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