Four years after a Defense Department survey found widespread racial discrimination and harassment in the United States military, the Pentagon made the results public after a Reuters investigation revealed that the Trump administration had been sitting on the data.
Nearly a third of Black U.S. military servicemembers reported experiencing racial discrimination, harassment or both during the 12-month period tracked in the survey, but many did not report it due to “high levels of dissatisfaction with the complaint process.” Reuters released its investigation on Jan. 14. The numbers back up a special report by Reuters last September that chronicled military servicemembers experiences and fear of retaliation for reporting discrimination.
The survey is conducted every four years, so even as the public learns of the results for the first time, the Pentagon is required to carry out a new survey for the 2021 fiscal year. The Trump administration denied a Reuters Freedom of Information Act Request just last month, at the same time that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office was also seeking the data.
“This just-released 2017 report shows that President Trump’s Department of Defense has deliberately concealed statistics exposing a racial justice crisis in the military,” Gillibrand told Reuters. “While Defense Department leadership paid lip service to equality, they withheld a report revealing that minority service members face rampant discrimination and harassment, and those that report it are nearly as likely to face punishment as the perpetrators.”