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WASHINGTON — Following a series of high-profile hazing incidents endured by members of the U.S. Armed Services, Rep. Judy Chu (D-El Monte), along with 12 other members of Congress, sent a letter on Jan. 20 to the House Armed Services Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee requesting a hearing on the military’s hazing and harassment prevention polities.
Alleged hazing and aggressive treatment led to the death of Chu’s nephew, 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Harry Lew, in April of last year. Since then, a number of similar cases, including that of Pvt. Danny Chen of New York, have raised questions about the effectiveness of the military’s efforts to prevent such tragedies. As a result, Chu has taken an active role in ensuring that all possible efforts are made to safeguard troops from this kind of behavior.
“The hazing of our nation’s defenders is inexcusable,” said Chu. “These brave men and women volunteer to be placed in harm’s way to protect our country. They deserve better than to face discrimination or malicious treatment from their fellow soldiers in return. I know first-hand about the pain a family faces when hazing leads to the loss of a loved one, and it is something no family should have to endure.”
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) said, “Given the factors involved in these cases, congressional oversight will be critical to preventing future incidents.”
While the military has some anti-hazing policies already in place, incidents of mistreatment have continued to arise. The exact prevalence is not known, however, because the military does not keep comprehensive data on hazing. This has raised concerns that the current policies have not been effective in combating hazing, harassment and abusive treatment.
“The most tragic part of this behavior is that it is entirely preventable,” said Chu. “The purpose of this requested hearing is to ensure the policies of the United States Armed Services are successful in protecting each and every service member from hazing. Our service members should be able to focus on outside threats not have to fear harm from within their own ranks.”
Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) added, “Nearly 30 years after Vincent Chin’s murder, our nation is shocked and saddened by another hate-induced tragedy. The hazing of Pvt. Danny Chen, that allegedly caused his death, is an urgent call to action. 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.
“I hope that the House committees on Armed Services and Oversight and Government Reform will take these warnings seriously and hold hearings in order to protect our brave service members from any future danger.”