By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – An Asian-American legislator has expressed dismay that the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act does not clearly address the issue of hazing in the military.
Rep. Judy Chu, D-California, said the $633-billion defense budget approved by the U.S. Senate late Friday afternoon, did not require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to make an independent study on hazing.
(The study) is “essential, because I think that there has to be a voice outside of the military that can look at hazing as a crime and determine its consequences and determine why there’s nothing being done about it,” Chu said in a statement Saturday.
She said that she had a nephew who killed himself after being subjected to hazing by his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan.
In 2011, an Army private, Danny Chen, who was raised in New York’s Chinatown, shot himself in an outpost in Kandahar, Afghanistan after being subjected to abuse and racial slurs by soldiers in his unit.
Eight soldiers were found guilty of hazing and abuse, but no one was severely punished, with the sentences ranging from demotion in rank, fines, and reprimands from a military court.
The “light” sentences outraged the Asian-American community and advocates have called on the military to address more clearly hazing incidents and cases of racial abuse.
Chu, who chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in the U.s. House of Representatives, has pushed for strong language in the defense authorization bill.
But she said it got diluted as the compromise bill came back from the Senate.
Chu said she’s disappointed that the military is required to make a one-time only report to Congress, with no permanent database of hazing incidents, and no independent study from the Government Accountability Office
Chu proposed that hazing data be broken out along race and gender to determine whether women and minorities are prime targets for military hazing.
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