MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced that he has approved a corrective action plan developed by the Wisconsin National Guard to implement top-to-bottom changes in the Wisconsin National Guard in response to a federal review which detailed system failures by the Wisconsin National Guard in its handling of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and retaliation allegations.
On Dec. 9, 2019, Gov. Evers issued Executive Order #62, which required that the Wisconsin National Guard submit a corrective action plan for approval by the governor that details how the Wisconsin National Guard will implement each of the 21 recommendations in the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations’ Report and identify strategies to prevent sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other sexual misconduct, including best practices from other states’ national guards.
The plan, developed in conjunction with the National Guard Bureau, calls for strict compliance with federal regulations and guidance, supplemented by Wisconsin National Guard-developed processes that will ensure proper reporting, investigation, accountability, and support for survivors. Brig. Gen. Laurie Farris of the New Hampshire National Guard has been assigned to oversee the corrective action plan's development and implementation.
“There is still much work to be done to ensure that our service members are safe and supported while carrying out their mission, but we are taking important steps to implement needed reforms,” said Gov. Evers. “The corrective action plan that the Wisconsin National Guard has developed will help us implement the top-to-bottom changes needed to ensure a safe workplace in the Guard, one that is free of sexual assault and harassment and the fear they might face retaliation for reporting sexual assault or harassment when it happens.”
The plan will be implemented in four phases beginning immediately with an initiation phase that runs between now and March 31, followed by a validation phase that concludes May 31, an execution phase that concludes July 30, and a full implementation and reassessment phase that ends with a Wisconsin National Guard and National Guard Bureau validation that all 21 OCI assessment recommendations are satisfied no later than August 31.
The Office of Complex Investigations Assessment Corrective Action Plan is available here.
In January, Gov. Evers announced that Lt. Col. Brian Bischoff would serve as an ombudsman for the Wisconsin National Guard to assist survivors and complainants in the review of allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and retaliation within the organization. Current and former members of the Wisconsin National Guard may directly contact the office of the ombudsman at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (608) 267-7207.