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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: 2017-03-24 10:19 AM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Every spring Camp Ripley begins its annual controlled burn program to help reduce the risk of wildfire during training.
"Usually the burns are completed every spring before the summer annual training season begins," said Tim Notch, training area coordinator on Camp Ripley. "However, the warmer weather conditions provide a nice opportunity for preventative burns earlier this season."
As in years past Camp Ripley will conduct controlled burns on approximately 13,000 acres of the 53,000-acre military reservation. The burns are done in coordination with the staffs of the Camp Ripley Department of Public Works and the Camp Ripley Environmental Department along with support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Posted: 2017-03-23 09:46 AM DULUTH, Minn. - Pfc. Trevor Nelson received the Minnesota Distinguished Recruiting Ribbon and a Minnesota Recruiting and Retention Battalion medallion for excellence from Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Serbus, March 18, 2017, at the Duluth Armory. Nelson earned these awards as part of the online referral system, Leads 2 Enlistment for referring four friends who have joined the Minnesota National Guard.
"I talked to some buddies in my school about the Guard. They liked the benefits, so I put their info in the app and let my recruiter take over." said Nelson. "I thought it would be fun to serve with friends and help them figure out their path in life."
Nelson is currently a senior at Cloquet Senior High School and assigned to the Recruit Sustainment Program in Duluth. He attended basic training at Fort Benning in the summer of 2016 with follow-on training in the summer of 2017 to become an infantryman.
Posted: 2017-03-10 08:50 AM LITCHFIELD, Minn. -Bruce Cottington, a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea, donated a bronze bust of Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr. to the Litchfield National Guard unit during the armory's public open house event March 4. Cottington, a Litchfield resident, commands the Minnesota Chapter of the Veterans of Underage Military Service. VUMS members enlisted in the military prior to the minimum age requirement in order to serve their country during WWII. Cottington received the bust from Vessey, a fellow VUMS member. Both enlisted in the military at the age of 16.
The highlight of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion open house was the unveiling of the sculpture. The unit was very supportive when Cottington proposed donating the sculpture. The Litchfield community has always been very supportive of the National Guard over the years, so the open house was a chance to say 'thanks' to their neighbors. "This was a great opportunity to honor Bruce and to honor Gen. Vessey," said B Co., 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion Commander, Capt. Seth Goreham. Bravo Company also has a tight relationship with the local American Legion and VFW. Many Litchfield citizens are former members of Bravo Company, or the unit's predecessors A Co, 682nd Engineer Battalion, and the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company.
Posted: 2017-03-08 03:29 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The garrison command team of Camp Ripley, family, friends and colleagues from the Minnesota National Guard attended a Change of Responsibility ceremony between Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Worden and Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Erickson, March 5, 2017, at Camp Ripley.
The ceremony was an official "passing of the sword" from one senior noncommissioned officer to the next and assumption of the duties and responsibilities that go along with the position of Garrison Command Sergeant Major.
As with many military ceremonies those in attendance welcomed Erickson as a new member of the team and bid farewell, recognized and thanked Worden for his service.