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: 2015-08-29 08:44 AM
After a nine-month tour of duty on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, the Soldiers of the 204th Area Support Medical Company based out of Cottage Grove, Minn., celebrated their return home on Aug. 29, 2015, at Century College in White Bear Lake.
"Our Soldiers provided medical support for the Multinational Force and Observers, which is comprised of more than 1,600 Service members from 12 nations," said Army Capt. Jonathan Vang, 204th Area Support Medical Company commander.
Posted: 2015-08-28 03:36 PM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2015
The fifth annual Military Appreciation Day at the Minnesota State Fair presented by USAA on Sept. 1st will recognize veterans and provide an educational opportunity for all fair goers to learn about Minnesota's military community.
"A special addition this year is a morning Veteran Recognition Program just before the flag officially raises on the day at the fair," said Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, Minnesota National Guard adjutant general.
Posted: 2015-08-28 03:30 PM
SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Distinguished visitors toured the Minnesota Vigilant Guard 2015 exercise on Tuesday. The group was comprised of visiting military officials, emergency response leaders, and government officials.
Posted: 2015-08-28 03:09 PM
DULUTH, Minn. -- The 148th Fighter Wing Emergency Family Assistance Center was activated in response to the Vigilant Guard 2015 exercise Aug. 24, 2015, as the Minnesota National Guard continued to assist local authorities around the northeastern part of the state in response to a series of simulated weather-related disasters.
"Emergencies happen, we want to make sure that military families have the information and assistance they need," stated Jennifer Kuhlman, 148th Fighter Wing Airman and family readiness program manager and EFAC coordinator.