WASHINGTON – OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates supports the passage of Rep. Judy Chu’s (D-Pasadena) bill addressing hazing in the military.
On Tuesday, Chu introduced the Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act, legislation that would help combat hazing and bullying in the military. In conjunction with Chu, OCA-New York and members of a coalition against hazing in the military, OCA National has worked closely with the Department of Defense to address the hazing that caused the deaths of Private Danny Chen and Lance Corporal Harry Lew in 2011 in Afghanistan.
Lew, Chu’s nephew, was a Marine who committed suicide after being assaulted by other members of his platoon for falling asleep while on guard duty. Chen, an Army soldier, was racially harassed and beaten by his fellow soldiers before he took his own life.
“Though the memo released by the Department of Defense was a positive step forward by including mandatory training and inclusion of data collection categories like race and sex, the memo did not go far enough and left out important data categories such as religion and national origin,” said Ken Lee, OCA chief executive officer.
“This legislation would provide that these problems are met and that there are adequate training and reporting structures in place to ensure that the Department of Defense implements these policies, so the lives of servicemembers like Danny Chen and Harry Lew are not lost needlessly.
“We look forward to promoting the Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act on Capitol Hill and working with Congresswoman Chu and our many partners around the country to ensure that this legislation or legislation with the same effect is enshrined in law and made permanent. We must guarantee the well-being, morale, and safety of our military men and women in their units so that each servicemember can best perform their duty of keeping our country safe.”
OCA is a national organization of community advocates dedicated to improving the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans.
“This month marks the fifth anniversary of the death of my nephew, Harry Lew,” Chu said on the House floor. “While deployed in Afghanistan, Harry was hazed and brutally assaulted by his fellow Marines for almost four hours. Twenty minutes later, he took his own life. He was 21 years old.
“Harry’s story is not unique. I have now heard from families and servicemembers across the country who have their own tragic stories and tried to seek help. But many are at a loss at where to turn. That is because the Pentagon’s guidance on hazing is unclear, inconsistent and imperfectly applied.
“Without an accurate system of tracking hazing incidents, we have no way to actually know the full extent of the problem. This failure costs lives. It is time the military treat this problem seriously.
“My bill, the Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act, would require the Department of Defense to track and report annually on the problem of hazing in the military. Our men and women in uniform protect us. We must do what we can to protect them.”