One week after Arizona Sen. Martha McSally’s startling announcement that she was raped by a superior officer during her time in the Air Force. the former A-10 pilot has called for an executive summit on sexual assault with top service officials and outside experts.
McSally, who retired in 2010 as a colonel and was one of the first female combat veterans elected to Congress, sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson Wednesday requesting the summit within the next 30 days.
“I write to request an immediate executive summit with you, Gen. Goldfein and other senior Air Force leaders and policy experts to tackle the issue of sexual assault in our United States Air Force,” McSally wrote. “Despite a number of positive changes over the past several years, we have not seen a significant reduction [in] sexual assault reports or increase in convictions within the Air Force or across the services.”
During a March 6 Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee hearing on the military services’ efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault in the ranks, McSally disclosed that she, too, is a military sexual assault survivor.
“Like so many women and men, I didn’t trust the system at the time,” she said. “I blamed myself. I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong but felt powerless. The perpetrators abused their position of power in profound ways.”
Martha McSally, a key Republican voice on military issues in the Senate, said she kept the assault hidden because of fear of how military leaders would handle it.
Unlike some of her colleagues in the House and Senate, McSally has emphasized the importance of keeping commanders at the center of the solution for sexual assault response and prevention.