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: 2015-03-05 09:18 AM CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait- Staff Sgt. Cameron Gilliam is constantly moving--before, during and after a fight. His opponents usually stand in their corner, maybe move their arms and jump a little bit, but nothing like Gilliam. He paces back and forth at about a five-foot space near his corner. Only when the referee looks at him to begin the fight does he shuffle his feet. After the fight begins, he closes in on his opponent. They exchange a few jabs, some landing while others hit air. Then Gilliam goes in for a takedown. He wrestles his opponent to the ground, focusing more on achieving a good choke position than landing punches. His opponent focuses on punching Gilliam wherever his fist can land. His opponent tries to stand up, but he'll always land back on the ground. Eventually--whether it is one, two or three rounds in--Gilliam submits his opponent when he's most vulnerable.
Gilliam, a Woodbury, Minnesota, native and information technologist noncommissioned officer with the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade deployed to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, has been training in mixed martial arts for the past four years at Spartan Martial-Arts in Oakdale, Minnesota. Gilliam wrestled at Woodbury high school, but he never planned to start MMA.
Posted: 2015-03-04 09:39 AM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- A little more than a year after Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Houdek was severely injured in a farming accident near his Little Falls, Minn., home, he is back to work with the Minnesota National Guard and adapting to life with a prosthetic.
"When I came out of the first surgery, they were telling me that they were hoping that within a year I would be able to hold a pen," said Houdek. "Since then I've come a lot further, a lot more than what they had thought."
On Nov. 12, 2013, Houdek took a day off from his full-time job as a wage leader at Camp Ripley's Consolidated Maintenance Activity - South to harvest corn on his 60-acre hobby farm. Halfway through, he stopped to check on his machinery, leaving the tractor running. When he went to clear some corn out of the husking bin of the picker, his right arm was pulled into the shaft. As he was trying to pull his right hand out, his left hand got caught in another shaft, trapping both his arms in the machine.
Posted: 2015-02-25 03:15 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- Soldiers of the Norwegian Home Guard conducted inter-agency training with state and local law enforcement, Feb. 12-23, 2015, at Camp Ripley.
"The training conducted by the Norwegian Rapid Reaction Force, or RRF, is based on the National Guard's focus of inter-agency cooperation in time of need," said Lt. Col. Bryce Erickson of the Minnesota National Guard.
The training was organized as part of the American-Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange; which is in its 42nd consecutive year between the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard.
Posted: 2015-02-24 10:14 AM SNAASA, Norway- Airmen and Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard participating in the 42nd American - Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange (NOREX) retraced the steps of U.S. and Norwegian special operators 70 years ago who, during the final months of World War II, waged a successful sabotage campaign against German forces occupying Norway.
The U.S. Service members, along with their Norwegian counterparts, completed a 12-mile trek on skis through mountainous terrain, as well as a reconnaissance of the Jorstad bridge and simulated demolition using signal flares. The field training exercise concluded, February 19, 2015, with a ceremony in honor of those who destroyed the bridge to stop the movement of German troops through Norway and a wreath-laying in memory of the 80 people who perished, January 13, 1945, when a train derailed into the icy water several hours after the demolition.