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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By Capt Charri' Leonard, Hurlburt Field Sexual Assault Response Coordinator
  • 1st Special Opertions Force Support Squadron
exual assault is a crime affecting victims of all ages, races and genders. Each April, the Department of Defense and other organizations across the nation observe Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This annual event highlights the efforts the DOD is taking to combat the crime and promote prevention through events and activities geared toward educating the public. 

This year's theme is "Our Strength is for Defending."
As an Air Force member, your mission is to learn and embody AF Core Values: Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in all We Do. Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley has stated, "Sexual assault is absolutely inconsistent with our core values, and it has no place in our Air Force, in a deployed context, at home or anywhere in between." 

The theme of this year's SAAM was chosen as a reminder that each and every military member, whether at home or deployed, has an important role in preventing, reporting and intervening in sexual assaults. The theme focuses on the military member's abilities to perform acts of heroism consistent with our sworn oath to "protect and defend."
Sexual assault is defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, nonconsensual sodomy, indecent assault, or attempts to commit these acts. According to FBI reports, one out of three women will be sexually assaulted within her lifetime, and one out of six women will be raped. The 2009 SAAM theme "Our Strength is for Defending" has a goal of reducing these statistics within the DOD. 

As the sexual assault response coordinator, I have three main goals: to assist the victims of sexual assault, including all active-duty members, civil service employees and dependents, to accurately report sexual assaults to ensure leadership has the information needed to take quick, decisive action against offenders and to prevent sexual assaults at Hurlburt Field through education, awareness events and outreach programs. As part of SAAM, I challenge each of you to find ways to become a part of the prevention and education process to help reduce sexual assaults at Hurlburt Field. 

Find out more about what you can do to prevent sexual assault by participating in local SAAM events during the month of April. Your efforts could have lasting effects on one of your fellow servicemembers. For more information, call 884-7272 or the 24/7 Hotline 499-7425.