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: 2014-10-31 10:55 AM ST. PAUL, Minn.- Ninety-six airmen from the Minnesota National Guard's 133rd Airlift Wing are scheduled to return next week to Minnesota following a four-month deployment to Southwest Asia.
"Our Airmen are coming home after a great deployment. Their diligence and constant strive for excellence showed in their efforts and accomplishments while deployed. Their high level of readiness paid huge dividends as they successfully flew and directly supported numerous C-130 re-supply and humanitarian airlift missions in the region. I am proud of each and every one of our Airmen and am glad all have come back safely to their families," said Air Force Col. Jim Johnson, 133rd Airlift Wing commander.
Posted: 2014-10-29 12:32 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- In 2010, the Army published the Training Circular (TC) 3-22.20, codifying a long-held view by many in the service that physical readiness training, PRT, is more than just pushups, sit-ups and running.
"The Army PRT System is performance-based, incorporating physically-demanding activities that prepare Soldiers and units to accomplish physical requirements," said Maj. Neal Wilson, Camp Ripley garrison safety officer.
Posted: 2014-10-25 03:22 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- A program started in 2012 to help non-commissioned officers develop and progress in their careers is now available to all Minnesota National Guard non-commissioned officers (NCOs) in the grade of E-5 and above.
The Minnesota National Guard mentorship program provides mentor support for NCOs who wish to further and enhance their careers and gain insight from experienced senior NCOs. The program is open to both the Army and Air National Guard.
Posted: 2014-10-25 01:40 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- Senior enlisted leaders from the Minnesota Army and Air National Guard gathered at Camp Ripley, October 25-26 to discuss leadership, mentorship, career development and the way ahead for Soldiers and Airmen of the Minnesota National Guard.
Along with discussions about leadership, the focus of many discussions was the changing environment due to military budget cuts and what that means for Service members. As budgets dwindle, personnel cuts are a very real threat that will force the Minnesota National Guard and all military organizations to identify and maintain only the best of the best.
Posted: 2014-10-22 03:53 PM CHISHOLM, Minn.- The Minnesota National Guard's Chisholm-based 114th Transportation Company is scheduled to hold their 30-day reintegration event and welcome home ceremony Saturday at Chisholm High School after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.
"A priority of the Minnesota National Guard is to improve the wellness and resiliency of service members and their family members," said Army Capt. Ryan R. Koester, 114th Transportation Company Commander.