Military veterans react to rising number of sexual assaults in the ranks

Navy veteran Trina McDonald and Marine veteran Stacey Thompson demand an overhaul after the Dept. of Defense reveals 20,500 reports of sexual assault were made in 2018.
8:51 | 05/02/19

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Transcript for Military veterans react to rising number of sexual assaults in the ranks
A stunning news out of the Pentagon this morning a story that hasn't gotten a lot of attention lately but it certainly is a big one military. And a new survey says the number of reported sexual assaults. A has skyrocketed in the past year to more than 20000. I reported in 2018 that's on par with the number five years ago. Said this number is coming after the military has taken extraordinary steps to try to reduce. The incidents of assault in the military this is how they define military sexual assault they call it rape. Forcible sodomy aggravated sexual contact abusive sexual contact and attempts to commit this offense is all of that. Tracked in this new pentagon survey and are. Our pentagon reporter me Martinez joins us now from over there are you got an early look at all this information Louis certainly eye opening what did they survey find. And who is that British Rex. Denton of the people at greatest risk are the female service members between the ages of seventeen and 24. Which equates to the junior enlisted members and military. This isn't a study is carried out every two years by the military. And it kinda gives in high into that what is going on it when it comes to sexual assault. They look for trends on the spot where they need to focus on and what they're realizing CA is that they really need to focus on these very young. Female service members and also on their male peers because the study found that it is they're. And peers have who won it both in age and in rank so maybe just at the same rank or maybe one or two ranks above. That these are the individuals who really in there in these incidents for perpetrating the incidence of on sexual assault so what the military's going to be doing is that they say they're going to be focusing on that age group. I'm they've gotten new plans in place. Essentially changing some of the things that have been working in the past. But which officials and they were very candid them and they say that they were disheartened. Some of them said that they were angry on the scene at these numbers because just two years ago the numbers have gone to the lowest ever. I since have been carrying out these surveys over the last decade and now just to see the numbers just go back up to where they were five years ago. Armed they are not encouraged but what they do you know is that they know that change has to be done. I'm and they say that that's part of the situation may have to be adaptable you can't keep going with the same. Planning or the same prevention efforts you have to keep up with what's working and what's and change what's not working. Very clearly more change needs to be done and the ranks of the panic at the Pentagon and our military new Martinez thanks for the breaking news they are today it's free and two military veterans and survivors of sexual assault in the ranks also to advocates pressing the military. To do more treat a MacDonald served in the navy she joins us now. As to Stacy Thompson on Lance corporal in the Marine Corps both outspoken advocates both survivors. Ladies think you so much for coming in what do you make of the new numbers Katrina let's start with you. Are these more women coming forward as is there more misconduct in your viewers as a little bit of both. I think it a little bit of both. My. My you know first impression is you know of course it's women that are seventy to 24 years old. There are young enlisted you know members that are coming and there's a culture that they're coming into in the climate that are coming in which they mention man is the actual report is the about the climate. And I think that there's this huge problem. Bed. The people that we're bringing in the military is walking into the culture were raised and harassment and retaliation and all these things are happening. You know and I am really I think he has a huge problem in is something that need to be changed. And they haven't been advocating forward veterans and his government will the 2010. After you know and in that and dealing with my own symptoms and you know I was raped when I was eighteen years old you know shortly after I went to my first duty stations time I'm seeing this of the problem right now. I'll ask you and Stacy how you think the culture has changed or hasn't changed we've heard stories. That victims being so worried about retaliation if they come forward hasn't gotten any better. And thank anyone Aaron. Yeah there and you know from where we are doing lately. And we've heard quite a didn't worry that retaliate. And hanging it day and weak year are better served. You know Margaret decade Alan veterans who had recently got out. We're all your aunt Tina Brown the letter you rate now in every Alley and not change. And I don't feel that it you know I think it's been a rack. And everybody is acknowledged it broke out or at that point Whitney problem. Means you to stop and talk about me. The problem and how do you know what we need to implement and waited only military across all the rain in. Where you understand it if I think neither can no longer in Kenya. Well dressed like flat on the risks we don't have a standard at each other. What we have what it breaks out we can't even hander that Clinton. You know they're all different brands and absolutely. Clear understanding of what it how legal and Connie. I think you gonna continue being quite angry. But wait where it a lot of top. Yeah and train in light of that with them with these numbers and picking up for Stacy was Hussein there and I do it do you have any confidence that the military can fix this. On its own or is it gonna take congress is again take the president. To implement some of the changes from the outside. I think it let you know the answer appears questions. My hate my gut says. Yeah you know there's better than anything changes but I think you know what you're saying is we need actually call out the president a little bit and think that the year military. You know here behind veterans you know this is you know what you say. Why are you doing something about it because the way things have worked in the past and it's not getting any better. When you have numbers that have jumped out of over the past five years to where they're at the day in over 20000. That's incredible I mean and then nobody did anything about it and we're hearing you know I've I guess someone here that rhetoric and zero tolerance. I've heard it sure over twenty years and outplayed I want to see action just like safety said. And facing what other action do you want to see from military leaders or from. Concerned citizen. Well I'd you know I think that we all. Eight acknowledge it you know there's the narrative is going on and it's certainly needs. Jacks for all it is not a gender issue. Yes I understand and I. Depending on its recognized being. It isn't happening you are mostly women but we cannot tonight at half men and women we don't say yeah. Don't want to see it how many people will life or brown it's happening to members here. And the tiger that we need is not looking at its wrath is does eight. Yeah sexual issued. And power. Down a little rain all. Tying your ire. It poignant example of the power we each equal to retaliate when one hour or it which is that we don't deal. Warm work or. And and and yes I'm glad he got brought up his Juliette I believe Gatwick com Greg let's find out hey we're. You are pandering she what you plan on giving it draft that is how we're issue happening in your military. Where it one year twenty Allen and by 800. Are reporting. Again get the numbers are reporting rate are reporting from artist re explore all. And taping gun you've bar in the week you gotta really. Yeah yeah it really is really something in the numbers again 120000. And just in the last year alone that's an uptick Stacy Thompson. Trim it down thank you both so much for for your advocacy and for sharing your voices. With us here in the briefing or appreciate you very much. I'm will continue to follow the latest house is powerful and that are willing to speak out and be public and a sliding on behalf of and others especially others are worried retaliation any sane absolutely.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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