Suicide of lawmaker's nephew leads to military anti-hazing bill

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif. Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

A group of House members announced on Monday that they have introduced a bill to prevent hazing in the armed services, prompted partly by the suicide last year of a nephew of Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., while he was a U.S. Marine stationed in Afghanistan.

The bill would create a statutory definition of hazing in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, create a national database of incidents to help determine causes, require studies of hazing-prevention training, and require the Defense Department to develop a plan to address hazing incidents.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., and Chu announced jointly that their legislation is being called the Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act of 2012. Lance Cpl. Harry Lew killed himself in a foxhole in Afghanistan with his military-issued machine gun after being hazed by fellow Marines in April 2011.

Chu said, “Since that day, the military has been a perpetual disappointment – both in failing to deliver justice for Harry’s death and in their lack of attention to hazing within their ranks.” She added that military officials have “maintained that they don’t have a problem – that they are handling this issue perfectly.” She asked, “How can they claim they are doing everything perfectly if they don’t even have anti-hazing policies or training?”

A military investigation found that Lew killed himself after three of his fellow marines forced him to repeatedly do push-ups and other physical tasks, taunted, punched, and kicked him, and poured the contents of a sandbag over his face and mouth. In all, the hazing – described as prompted over anger that Lew had repeatedly fallen asleep while on watch – lasted more than three hours.

The three perpetrators were court-martialed, but Chu has contended that they were eventually let off “with virtually no punishments.” One who pleaded guilty to assault was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a reduction in rank. A squad leader and another Marine were found not guilty of charges tied to the hazing.

The lawmakers’ announcement lists several other military hazing incidents, including others that were also linked to later suicides by the victims.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.