Hagel: New officers must help eliminate assault

Chuck Hagel

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says new officers need to lead the fight against sexual assault and help people in the military facing mental health issues.

Hagel told the graduating class of the U.S. Naval Academy on Friday that students have seen how sexual assault can destroy trust and confidence at the heart of the military. He told them to use their experience to make sure everyone is treated respectfully.

In the past year, the academy has seen the prosecution of three academy football players accused of sexually assaulting a classmate. Charges against two were dropped. The third was acquitted.

Hagel also told graduates they will lead people struggling with mental health issues as the nation concludes 13 years of war. He says those people must be embraced, not stigmatized.

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