Commentary: Sexual assault prevention includes support, accountability

By Team Hill Wing Commander editorial
November 7, 2013

 

Sexual assault has no place in our Air Force. A single sexual assault inhibits our ability to accomplish our mission, undermines our core values and abuses the trust our country has placed upon us to serve honorably and protect each other. The Air Force is aggressively engaging in prevention strategies, supporting victims and holding accountable those who commit sexual assault. Our goal is to prevent these assaults altogether.

We can all work to prevent sexual assault through education, encouraging a wingman culture on and off duty and ensuring an environment of trust and respect. A recent focus group of nearly 20 people met here and was led by the installation sexual assault response coordinator (SARC) and the 388th Fighter Wing and and 75th Air Base Wing command chiefs to discuss prevention strategies.

The focus group recommended a need for more prevention strategies and training. They suggested that sexual assault prevention training rely more on real-world scenarios and personal experiences, while avoiding large, auditorium- training sessions. The focus group thinks that a small class size is best for engagement. Bottom line, we are working toward improving sexual assault prevention by identifying new training strategies to implement across the base.

We also must encourage personnel to feel comfortable coming forward with a problem, and they must know that it will be addressed. By supporting victims of sexual assault, we are providing the resources for them to heal both physically and mentally and are reinforcing our commitment to the safety and well-being of our Air Force personnel.

There is a new website that can help Team Hill become more informed about sexual assault. While not all-inclusive, this website allows everyone to view details from more than 100 sexual assault convictions from across the Air Force. They can be viewed by base. It is a valuable education tool and provides common threads and danger signs. Many cases involve the use of alcohol, a lack of personal respect for the victim and the absence of the victim’s consent. Morale and trust are destroyed when teammates and wingmen take advantage of each other.

Airmen committing these crimes are held accountable by our military justice system. After conviction, Airmen face jail time, rank reductions and punitive discharges. In most states, Airmen convicted of these crimes must also register as sexual offenders in their jurisdiction. These lists contain personal information and addresses are made available online in most jurisdictions.

We need everyone at all levels to actively foster respectful relationships, be good wingmen for one another and help to prevent and solve the issue of sexual assault in our Air Force and Team Hill. We challenge you to become part of the Team Hill solution.

Go visit the website:

http://www.afjag.af.mil/sexualassaultprosecution/index.asp.

To learn more, contact Janaee Stone, Hill AFB’s SARC, or Capt. Kandis Paskell, the deputy SARC, at 801-777-1985/1964.

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