Sexual assault in the U.S. armed forces cost taxpayers $3.6 billion last year alone, according to a recent report by the Rand Corporation. This statistic takes into account money spent on medical and mental health services as well as “intangible costs,” or, money that would have been made, had the rape not occurred. For example, the number of unpaid workdays victims miss because of their assault amounts to a $104.5 million annual loss for the economy.
It should be noted, however, that the report made this calculation from similar incidents of rape in the civilian sector. The average immediate medical cost for civilian victims is $2,084, of which they pay 30 percent out of pocket. Medical care increases by 56 percent in the subsequent couple of years and roughly one-third seek mental help. The report assumes that rape in the military bears roughly the same financial burden.
In 2012, 3,374 U.S. service members reported they were victims of sexual assault. This amounts to 0.2 percent of members of the armed forces. These include cases of assault, harassment, vaginal rape and forced sodomy.
This report comes as incidents of sexual assaults increased by 35 percent since 2010. However, this spike can be at least partly attributed to better procedures for reporting incidents of sexual assault rather than an actual increase in number of annual assaults. However, if anything, this merely reveals the incidence of rape in the military is still much higher than previously thought.
Several service members and victims of sexual assault have filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon for its handling of cases of military sexual assault.