Increase in sexual assault reports a positive sign
Response to sexual assault is now a concern at the top levels of government. Accordingly, this April marks the eighth annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month observed by the Department of Defense and the military services.
Statistics show that more Service members are reporting sexual assaults with each passing year, but there's a blessing to that.
Wilkinson attributes the rise in reports to the intensive training that each Servicemember receives as part of regular training throughout the year.
Every Minnesota National Guard member is educated about perpetrator behavior, bystander intervention, command climate, resources for help, reporting options, and more. Unit victim advocates undergo additional training, often with chaplains and civilian subject matter experts.
"A rise in sexual assault reports is a positive trend that we do not want to discourage,"¯ she said.
Wilkinson was selected by the National Guard Bureau as one of four individuals to represent the National Guard at the 2012 SAPR conference in Washington D.C. this past March. In Washington, Wilkinson provided a briefing for Maj. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog, director for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office of the Department of Defense.
"We have to eliminate this problem from our ranks,"¯ Hertog said at the conference. "The American public gives us what's most dear to them and that's their sons and daughters. And they trust us that we're going to take care of them."¯
In the past year, the Minnesota SAPR office has developed Standard Operating Procedures for command and leadership.
Within the SOP is detailed instruction for commanders in the event of a report and step-by-step guidance for all sexual assault response coordinators and unit victim advocates when supporting a victim of sexual assault. At the National Guard Bureau, the expedited transfer process continues to be addressed.
The SAPR office has also stood up a Facebook page in 2012 and now publishes a quarterly newsletter.
"Our number one priority is to ensure Service members get the help they need to overcome the trauma of sexual assault that occurs on or off duty,"¯said Wilkinson.
According to the most recent Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military at www.sapr.mil, common reasons for not reporting sexual assaults are: not wanting anyone to know, feeling uncomfortable making the report, thinking the report would not be kept confidential, fear of retaliation or reprisal from the perpetrator, fear of being labeled a troublemaker, hearing about negative experiences of other victims, and thinking that nothing would be done.
The SAPR program is a victim-focused program that responds to all sexual assault reports with care, concern, and confidentiality. The goal is to provide a safe means for victims of sexual assault to report the assault with or without triggering an investigation, and most of all receive access to the medical services needed to heal from any physical, mental, or emotional trauma.
Options for those seeking help include:
- Calling the hotline at 877-995-5247 to speak with Safe Helpline staff for personalized advice and support.
- Texting a 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.
- Visiting http://www.SafeHelpline.org 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.
Posted: 2015-04-18 05:47 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Seemingly endless hours and meticulous planning become the norm after more than a week of exhaustive preparation by the Soldiers of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team preparing for a brigade Warfighter exercise at Camp Ripley Training Center.
"This is a tempo that we typically don't operate at," said 1st Lt. Paul Modeen, the brigade assistant operations officer. "From day one, when our advance party arrived to begin setting up our mission command post, we have been going full speed."
After two days of constructing the elaborate tent structure, networking dozens of work stations and establishing a perimeter to simulate working in a tactical environment, brigade staff began the intensive planning that goes into major military operations. Even before the Warfighter exercise was set to begin, hundreds of brigade Soldiers began working through the Army's strategy for large-scale project management, the Military Decision Making Process.
Posted: 2015-04-16 05:26 PM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2015
ST. PAUL, Minn.-
More than 300 hundred Minnesota National Guard women will gather together for the first Joint Female Professional Development Training Symposium at Metropolitan State University on April 18, 2015.
"The day is going to be packed full of growth and development opportunities for skills advancement, communication/networking, career mapping, being a leader and competing in the arena," said Lt. Col. Barb Pazdernik, event coordinator.
Approximately 20 percent of Minnesota National Guard soldiers and airmen are women. With more than 13,000 members, it's no secret that more males are in leadership positions - but solutions are in place to change that.
Posted: 2015-04-15 03:00 PM
Since 1986, the Department of Defense has celebrated April as the "Month of the Military Child", a recognition of the courage of and sacrifices made by children of military parents. More than 1.7 million American children under the age of 18 have at least one parent serving in the military many of whom have deployed several times.
"Month of the Military Child is great here in Minnesota," said the Minnesota National Guard's Family Programs Director Army Capt. Marian Belinski during a recent interview on Minnesota Military Radio. "We have phenomenal support from the government officials to our military leadership and the community in general."
Posted: 2015-04-14 08:53 AM ST. PAUL, Minn. - "Each year Joining Community Forces events strengthen the synchronization of effort across the state in sharing resources and building partnerships in support of military-connected residents." said Minnesota National Guard Director of Military Outreach, Annette Kuyper.
Registration closes Wednesday, April 15, for both afternoon and evening meetings that are scheduled for Albert Lea on April 23; Alexandria on April 30; Willmar on May 7; Cloquet on May 14; and Richfield on May 20.
"These meetings are important to the Yellow Ribbon Networks because it allows them to learn about how other communities are connecting with Service members, veterans and military families as well as how to connect with resources they can tap into to support them," said Kuyper.