This week, Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and former Army Ranger, and Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced the Realizing Efforts for Military Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (REMEDI) Act to require 21st century diversity training for the Department of Defense workforce. The legislation would update outdated language to ensure diversity training at the Department of Defense is a reflection of our nation’s values and promotes diversity, equality, and inclusion at the largest governmental agency. The bill is endorsed by Protect Our Defenders, Minority Veterans of America, and the Modern Military Association of America.
The last time the Department of Defense codified diversity training was over 20 years ago in 1996 when it added a buried note in U.S. Code. The REMEDI Act would ensure that diversity training includes programming to reduce discrimination and bias based on racism, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual identity. Crow’s bill would also expand and specify that training occur on a regular basis, and include not just uniformed personnel but also civilian and contract employees. In codifying diversity training as its own section, the REMEDI Act also ensures this is a priority area for the Department of Defense.
In a July 2020 House Armed Services Committee hearing, Congressman Crow questioned Dr. Nate Galbreath, Deputy Director of the DoD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, on how much time was spent training new recruits on military culture and sexual assault training. A video of the hearing can be found here.
“One of the strengths of our military is its diversity. In Iraq and Afghanistan, I served with men and women from every corner of the country and the team was stronger for our diversity,” said Congressman Crow. “I believe an important function of the military is to be a standard bearer for the values of our country and to lead by example. But I also know we have a problem in our military with sexual violence, racism, and homophobia. This bill is a powerful step forward to ensure our military is a place of equality, inclusivity, and integration.”
“A lot has changed in our nation and our Armed Forces over the past two decades. We now have the most diverse military that is more representative of the American people than at any point in our nation’s history, but diversity training has remained largely unchanged,” said Congresswoman Lori Trahan, a member of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. “The REMEDI Act will ensure that servicemembers who courageously volunteer to defend our nation and the civil servants who support them are able to do so without hiding who they are for fear of being discriminated or retaliated against. I’m grateful to Congressman Crow for his continued leadership on this important issue, and I look forward to working with him to secure a vote on our legislation.”
“Competent diversity, equity, and inclusion training is the first line of defense in combating bigotry and violence within our military ranks,” said Lindsay Church, Executive Director of Minority Veterans of America. “The incoming presidential administration has signaled that all able and willing persons will be afforded the opportunity to serve their nation openly, authentically, and without fear of discrimination. To secure that assurance and to fight against rising violence within the military community, we must improve our existing training frameworks and match them with accountability. We applaud Representative Crow for the introduction of this Bill and urge our nation’s elected leadership to swiftly pass this piece of legislation.”
“In order to ensure all service members are treated with dignity, respect, and have the full support they need and deserve, it’s critical that the Department of Defense take the necessary steps outlined in this important legislation,” said Air Force veteran and MMAA Interim Executive Director Jennifer Dane. “If we are going to face the threats of the next decade with a military force that reflects and draws from the rich diversity of this nation, then it’s essential we identify, confront, and root out racism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of hate. We greatly appreciate Representatives Jason Crow and Lori Trahan for their leadership in building a stronger, more inclusive force that fosters diversity and promotes inclusion.”
“Protect Our Defenders proudly stands in support of Representative Jason Crow’s Realizing Efforts for Military Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (REMEDI) Act. Our research has shown a significant disparity in the military justice system in which Black service members are up to twice as likely to be prosecuted than their white counterparts. Persons of color and women continue to be significantly underrepresented at the highest ranks and suffer lower promotion opportunities. Representative Crow’s legislation strengthening diversity training is critically needed to ensure all members of the military can serve to their full potential free of discrimination. I urge Congress to pass this legislation,” said Don Christensen, President, Protect Our Defenders.
The REMEDI Act follows Crow’s work to ensure equality within the military. Earlier this month, Congressman Crow was one of the first members of Congress to call for VA Secretary Wilkie’s resignation following reports that he sought to discredit a congressional aide reported being sexually assaulted at a VA facility. Earlier this fall, Congressman Crow helped introduce the bipartisan I Am Vanessa Guillén Act, which would move prosecution decisions on sexual assault and sexual harassment cases outside of the chain and establish a standalone military offense for sexual harassment. The bill also reforms the ways in which servicemembers report harassment, and the Department of Defense and Government Accountability Office evaluate cases. In September, Crow visited Fort Hood, Texas as part of a congressional delegation to investigate the Army’s botched response to the disappearance and murder of SPC Vanessa Guillén and the deaths of PV2 Gregory Wedel Morales, SGT Elder Fernandes, PFC Brandon Rosecrans, and SPC Freddy Delacruz.
Copy of the bill text can be found here.