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Joni Ernst admits that she faced sexual harassment while in the military

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Joni Ernst, a republican candidate for the Iowa Senate, admitted yesterday that she was sexually harassed on numerous occasion during her time in the military. Ernst, who served in the military for over 20 years, has promised that, if she’s elected, she will work to overhaul how sexual assault cases are handled in the armed forces.

“I had comments, passes, things like that,” Ernst said in an interview. “These were some things where I was able to say stop and it simply stopped, but there are other circumstances both for women and for men where they don’t stop and they may be afraid to report it.”

“This will not be an easy challenge. I understand many in my own party in Washington will oppose this plan, as will many in the military and Pentagon,” she said. “However, this should not be a partisan issue, and as a woman in uniform, I know that we must act now.”

If elected, Ernst will become the first female combat veteran to serve in the Senate, having been deployed in Iraq in 2003-2004 and now commands the largest battalion in the Iowa Army National Guard.  She feels that the issue of sexual assault has become a personal issue for her ever since she volunteered for a battered women’s shelter for two years in college.

“This legislation must ensure that sexual crimes in the military are both independently investigated and prosecuted,” Ernst writes in a draft of her Sioux Falls speech. “This will not be an easy challenge. I understand many in my own party in Washington will oppose this plan, as will many in the military and Pentagon. However, this should not be a partisan issue, and as a woman in uniform, I know that we must act now.”

Read more about the story in The Washington Post.

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