U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) today introduced the Legal Justice for Servicemembers Act. This legislation would strengthen the protections for military whistleblowers and ensure that servicemembers receive the justice they deserve.
The legislation would ensure that claims of retaliation are fairly and thoroughly investigated by allowing servicemembers to decline investigation of their retaliation claim by a Service IG in favor of a higher-level review by the DODIG and requiring the DODIG to develop standardized training and investigation procedures.
The bill also holds retaliators and complicit supervisors accountable by requiring the investigating Inspector General to recommend disciplinary actions against those guilty of retaliation and modifying the definition of prohibited personnel actions to stop commanders from turning a blind eye to acts of retaliation.
Senator Boxer authored the original Military Whistleblower Protection Act in 1988 as a member of the House of Representatives. Although the law has been updated periodically over the years, changes have not kept pace with protections afforded to civilian whistleblowers.
“Servicemembers who bravely speak out about wrongdoing or misconduct—especially sexual assault survivors—deserve to know that they will be protected from retaliation,” Senator Boxer said. “This bill will help ensure that whistleblowers who experience reprisal receive justice and that retaliators are held accountable.”
Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, worked with Ms. Boxer and her staff in 1988 on the Military Whistleblower Protection Act. The National Whistleblower Center strongly supports this new legislation. “Servicemembers perform their patriotic duty when they expose wrongdoing within the military and they need protection,” said Kohn. “Safe and lawful channels for reporting violations are critical to ensure the effectives of the armed services,” Kohn concluded.
Senators Boxer, Wyden and Markey are members of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus.