Asian American members of the US Congress on Thursday urged action to end hazing in the US military, voicing shock after the suicide of a soldier said to have endured racial slurs and harassment.
The 13 House members of Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus jointly called on top lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee to hold formal hearings to look at ways for the military to prevent hazing.
In the letter, the lawmakers said they were “shocked” that some military services do not keep records on hazing and do not have policies to determine whether their training against hazing is effective.
“The hazing of our nation’s defenders is inexcusable,” Representative Judy Chu, a Democrat from California who heads the caucus, said in a statement.
“These brave men and women volunteer to be placed in harm’s way to protect our country. They deserve better than to face discrimination or malicious treatment from their fellow soldiers in return,” said Chu, a Chinese American.
Danny Chen, a 19-year-old private stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, shot himself dead in October after enduring nearly daily harassment including slurs based on his Chinese heritage, according to his family.
He was forced to do excessive sits-ups and push-ups, to wear a construction hat and to give instructions in Chinese, even though the other soldiers did not understand the language, according to his family.
Eight troops were charged over Chen’s death, which led the military’s top officer, General Martin Dempsey, to warn the forces against hazing.
In another incident involving an Asian American, a Marine investigation said that Lance Corporal Harry Lew committed suicide last year after hazing that included Marines pouring sand in his mouth, kicking him and punching him.