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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: 2016-08-29 04:56 PM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2016
ST. PAUL, Minn.-
Funeral arrangements have been set for Gen. John William Vessey Jr. who passed away August 18, 2016, at the age of 94. Vessey, a Minnesota native, enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard as a private in 1939 and served as the tenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from June 18, 1982 to September 30, 1985.
"General John W. Vessey is a national treasure with a military legacy unmatched in the history of the Minnesota National Guard or the U.S. Army. His passing is nationally significant and yet very personal to many in the Minnesota National Guard, including me," said Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General. "General Vessey has been a mentor, and a friend; though missed by many, he will never be forgotten."
A religious service will take place Wednesday, August 31, at 1:00 p.m. at the Fort Snelling Chapel where he married his wife, Avis, in 1945. This service is open to the public and the media.
Posted: 2016-08-26 03:01 PM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2016
ST. PAUL, Minn.-
The sixth annual Military Appreciation Day at the Minnesota State Fair presented by USAA on Tuesday, August 30, will recognize Minnesota's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program and provide an educational opportunity for all fairgoers to learn about Minnesota's military community.
"Veterans, active duty service members, and military families deserve our immense gratitude for their sacrifice and commitment," said Governor Mark Dayton. "Since 2008, over 290 cities, counties, businesses and non-profits have joined Minnesota's "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" program, and are now providing community support and employment assistance to veterans and military families. I thank these organizations for their leadership, and encourage all Minnesotans to thank and support our military heroes."
A 10:00 a.m. program at the Minnesota State Fair's Leinie Lodge Bandshell will celebrate Minnesota's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program. The program will conclude at 10:25 a.m. with a historic flyover of World War II-era P6 and B25 aircraft.
Posted: 2016-08-25 03:26 PM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2016
ST. PAUL, Minn.-
More than 150 Soldiers from the Minnesota Army National Guard's 682nd Engineer Battalion will return to Willmar Saturday following a mobilization in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
"The Soldiers of Task Force Wild excelled in their mission, and were recognized across the theater for their hard work and dedication," said Lt. Col. Keith Ferdon, battalion commander. "I couldn't be prouder of how our Soldiers represented the State of Minnesota."
The mission of the Task Force was to provide horizontal and vertical engineer construction in support of coalition forces in the region. The Soldiers oversaw the planning and execution of 285 construction projects with an approximate total value of 20.2 million dollars in seven countries: Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.
Posted: 2016-08-19 01:53 PM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2016
ST. PAUL, Minn.-
With the implementation of the "REAL ID Act" going into effect at Department of Defense installations nationwide, access will no longer be granted to Minnesotans carrying standard state-issued identification cards. Beginning this week, Minnesota residents will be required to have an approved escort or use alternative forms of identification to access the following installations:
- 133rd Airlift Wing, St. Paul
- 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth
- 934th Joint Base, Minneapolis
- Military Facility at Fort Snelling
Without a 'Real ID,' access will be granted only to individuals with an approved escort (i.e. a service member with a Common Access Card), or carrying one of the approved alternative forms of acceptable ID.