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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 DC 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 wwwsaprmil, 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://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
Posted: 2017-02-22 09:59 AM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Norwegian youths Stian Dahl and Haavard Engen received the Camp Ripley Garrison Commander's coin from Col. Scott St Sauver February 19, 2017, in recognition for reacting to a vehicle accident they witnessed earlier that week.
As part of the U.S.-Norway Reciprocal Troop Exchange, Norwegian youths ages 19-20 are matched up with a host family in order to spend an evening experiencing American culture. In most situations the "Buddy Weekend" as it's called allows the youths to go shopping, attend events and have home-cook meals along with their host family.
"We are able to match up youth members with families all over the state," said Staff Sgt. Tim Krouth, Buddy Weekend organizer. "Lots of the families have hosted one or two of our Norwegian friends for several years in a row now, it a great way to relax and see some of Minnesota."
Posted: 2017-02-21 01:25 PM HALTDALEN, Norway - After two days at a base camp near Haltdalen, Norway, Minnesota National Guardsmen participating in the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange were ready for the most challenging aspect of their four-day field training exercise - a ski march up the mountain.
It was Day three of the FTX, meaning members of the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange had slowly adjusted to surviving and thriving while living in a winter environment and also honed their skills on cross country skills well enough to begin a climb that would take nearly three hours.
"Our goal was to get you to know how to use the winter, see how the Norwegians use the winter, and how we survive the winter so we can conduct combat," said Vidar Aune, one of several members of Home Guard 12 guiding the Minnesota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen during their training here. "By getting the experience living outside in the snow, you manage to survive it and handle it quite well."
Posted: 2017-02-16 10:52 AM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. -Youth of the Norwegian Home Guard experienced some of Minnesota culture along with focused military style training during the first week of NOREX 2017.
The U.S.--Norway reciprocal Troop Exchange, which began Feb. 9, 2017, annually swaps approximately 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard and a like number of Norwegian Home Guard soldiers as well as youths to experience each other's training, military lifestyle and most importantly, culture.
"It's rewarding interacting with more young people eager to learn about a new lifestyle and culture," said Capt. Brett Farniok, Youth Platoon Officer-in-Charge.
Posted: 2017-02-12 01:38 PM CAMP VAERNES, Norway - Following a muster at the 133rd Airlift Wing and an eight-hour overnight flight across the Atlantic Ocean, nearly 100 Soldiers and Airmen with the Minnesota National Guard finally arrived in Norway to conduct the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange on Feb. 9, 2017.
While the U.S.-based Soldiers were warmly greeted by members of the Norwegian Home Guard at Camp Vaernes, a similarly-sized group of Norwegian Home Guard members were received at Camp Ripley Training Center. The arrival of military members from both countries to their host nations formally began the annual exchange, which provides a unique opportunity for individuals to become fully-immersed in foreign military and social culture.
"Though I didn't know what to expect before getting here, they have been very welcoming," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Taylor Hanson, a member of the 148th Fighter Wing. "They are making sure we had everything."