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: 2015-05-21 03:44 PM HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah - Approximately 180 Airmen and Block 50 F-16's from the 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. participated in an exercise known as Combat Hammer while at Hill AFB, Utah in early May 2015. Combat Hammer is a Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) that evaluates weapon systems in their entirety.
While the exercise was about a week long for most 148FW Airmen, it was quite a bit longer for those Airmen actually building the bombs and missiles. "Typically, we are one of the first assets to show up at a deployment," said 2nd Lt. Mylii Pukema, 148FW Munitions Officer. "We show up about a week before most everyone else, so we can build up the weapons and have them ready when the jets arrive."
"It's a common misconception that weapons come already built," said Pukema. "Different weapons have different levels of configuration that have to happen. It can be a lot of detail that goes into configuring a weapon or it can be relatively simple, it just depends on the mission."
148FW Munition's Airmen were evaluated from the time the weapon came out of the box. How they practiced safety and followed tech data during the building of the weapon were key components to the evaluation process.
Posted: 2015-05-17 10:38 AM ROSEMOUNT, Minn. - Soldiers and family members of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division gathered at the division headquarters Sunday, May 17, 2015 to witness the change of responsibility of the Division command sergeant major.
"We are here to say thank you and farewell to Command Sgt. Maj. Joel Arnold and welcome Command Sgt. Maj. John Lepowsky as the new command sergeant major of the 34th Infantry Division," said Brig. Gen. Benjamin Corell, assistant division commander of maneuver.
According to General Baron Friedrich von Steuben, inspector general of the Continental Army in 1779, "The choice of non-commissioned officers is an object of greatest importance: The order and discipline of a regiment depends so much on their behavior, that too much care cannot be taken in preferring none to that trust but those who by their merit and good conduct are entitled to it."
Posted: 2015-05-14 01:10 PM ST. PAUL, Minn. - - Minnesota Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) State Chair Nick Ostapenko recognized Metro area employers as outstanding employers of Minnesota National Guard and Reserve members, at the Minnesota ESGR Region 7 annual employer support awards banquet, May 11, at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Hilton Hotel in Bloomington, Minn.
"Our Nation has relied heavily on Guard and Reserve Service members since entering continuous operations more than a decade ago. Employer support enhances retention rates in the Armed Forces and in the end, strengthens our national security," said Ostapenko. "Recognizing supportive employers is vital to ESGR's mission. Our ESGR members actively promote awards as a key element in furthering employer support, while strengthening relationships between Service members and employers. We are here today to award and honor the sacrifices made by so many employers year after year."