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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota Guard awarded for Excellence in Sexual Assault Response

The Department of Defense recognized Sexual Assault Response Coordinators from each military service branch in a ceremony at the Pentagon April 15, 2011 This award recognizes individuals whose work has been particularly noteworthy, and demonstrates outstanding service in support of our Service members

Senior Master Sgt Kelly J Wilkinson, the Joint Force Headquarters Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for the Minnesota National Guard, received the award for the National Guard Bureau  Other 2011 award winners include Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Harrison, United States Army; Col Mark Hickman, United States Marine Corps; Ms Janice Logan, United States Navy; Mrs Valerie Cook, United States Air Force and Ms Tiffani Collier, United States Coast Guard

"I am humbled to be recognized as the Exceptional Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) of the Year for the National Guard," said Wilkinson "We have outstanding Wing SARC's, Unit Victim Advocates, and lastly, our new Alternate JFHQ's SARC, Mrs Rae Schwartz, who are all dedicated to providing the Awareness and Prevention Training and have assisted with victim care and advocacy"  

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Wilkinson's responsibilities include prevention and awareness training for over 14,000 Soldiers and Airmen, training and overall guidance to over 100 Unit Victim Advocates to ensure victims of sexual assault are provided guidance and emotional support during administrative, medical, investigative, and legal procedures

Following the awards, the DoD held a ribbon cutting ceremony, officially announcing the new DoD Safe Helpline for sexual assault support  Victim support is a key component of the DoD's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) policy  

As part of victim care, the Department is launching the Safe Helpline as a new crisis support service for adult Service members of the DoD community affected by sexual assault Safe Helpline provides live one-on-one expert advice and information worldwide  Available 24/7, users can "click, call or text" for anonymous and confidential support

"The under-reporting of sexual assault poses a serious challenge to military readiness," said Clifford L Stanley, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness  "We believe the Safe Helpline will provide DoD sexual assault victims with a variety of support outlets, which will lead victims to report sexual assault, seek needed information, and receive care"

Safe Helpline offers three access options designed for Service members  Users can log on to http://wwwSafeHelplineorg to receive live, one-on-one confidential help with a trained professional through a secure instant-messaging format  The website also provides vital information about recovering from and reporting sexual assault 

A second option is to call the telephone hotline at 877-995-5247 to speak with Safe Helpline staff for personalized advice and support  Safe Helpline staff can also transfer callers to installation-based sexual assault response coordinators, on-call victim advocates, civilian rape crisis centers, or to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

The third option is for users to text their location to 55247 inside the United States or 202-470-5546 outside of the United States to receive automated contact information for the SARC at their installation or base

"This is a great resource for our Service members to get help," said Wilkinson  "However, all Service members also have the option of reporting to the SARC, Unit Victim Advocate, Chaplain or medical to receive confidential care"

Story by Master Sgt Rich Kemp
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
15 April, 2011

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