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DAF strengthens discharge process for sexual offenders

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

The Department of the Air Force recently published DAF Instruction 36-3211: Military Separations, which outlines increased support to sexual assault survivors, strengthens sexual assault prevention and accountability efforts, and combines several discharge instructions.

Under the previous policy, Airmen and Guardians who committed sexual assault offenses were subject to mandatory initiation of discharge proceedings; the updated policy strengthens the criteria that may be considered for discharge.

These updates also ensure the discharge decision is objective and focuses decision makers on the relevant evidence of each case.

“Sexual assault is incompatible with our Core Values, the Guardian Ideal, and military service. These revisions will significantly improve our ability to discharge those unworthy of calling themselves Airmen and Guardians,” said Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones. “Our policies must set clear expectations and consequences for the force. Everything we do, and everything we say communicates the value that we place, or do not place, on one’s service.”

The department has a zero tolerance policy on sexual assault and sexual harassment, and it is responsible for providing a safe working environment for every Airman, Guardian and civilian.

The new departmental policy explicitly states members who commit sexual assault will face mandatory initiation of discharge and only, if certain limited circumstances exist, can a member be considered for an exception to the presumption of discharge.

Exceptions to discharge are now not allowed if the sexual assault was committed against a child, if abuse of authority is presumed to be present, or if a member has a prior substantiated allegation of sexual assault or sexual harassment. Additionally, the criteria that focused on how likely a member was to engage in a future act of sexual assault was removed having been determined to be subjective.

The separation authority and board members can no longer consider the following factors when determining whether a basis for a sexual assault discharge exists, whether a waiver is appropriate, and whether a member should be discharged if they have committed a sexual assault:

- Personal, family, or financial circumstances
- Good military character or service record
- Medical or mental health condition

The new policy also combines all previous discharge publications, providing a comprehensive and streamlined approach for policies impacting total force members.

In addition to these changes on the discharge policy, the department has proposed increased funding in its fiscal year 2023 budget to strengthen sexual assault and integrated violence prevention programs.

“These new objective criteria reflect our commitment to justice for sexual assault survivors and accountability of offenders,” added Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. “We are determined to maintain a culture of respect for the safety, dignity, and personal boundaries of every Airmen, Guardian, and civil servant.”

A link to a chart comparing the old criteria with the new criteria can be found here.