PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. --
April is Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month for United States Military members around the world.
The Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program’s mission is to serve as a single point of accountability for the sexual assault policy, in order to enable military readiness and reduce -- with a goal to eliminate -- sexual assault from the military.
Here at Pease, Major Moira Cuthbert, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator with the 157th Air Refueling Wing, has set up a resource table and a pledge board along with teal ribbons and flyers around base to remind Airmen at Pease of the significance of this month.
“For me it’s important to draw awareness to this,” said Cuthbert. “To acknowledge that people within our ranks have been hurt and to recognize that we are trying to take steps to help those people and to help improve our culture.”
The most recent survey on Guard and Reserve victims of unwanted sexual contact revealed 96% of alleged perpetrators were part of the military community.
The SAPR program has made the Guard more aware of sexual assault, its prevention, and the resources that are available in the event any form of sexual assault happens.
“The SAPR program is a great tool and resource available to our members and their families,” said Staff Sgt. Kirsten Arends, a command post controller from the 157th Air Refueling Wing. “It is hard to think, since we are such a close knit family in the Guard, sexual assault could ever happen here; but it does.”
Cuthbert said the focus of sexual assault prevention initiatives has shifted to Green Dot.
She explained the intent of Green Dot is to give the majority of people, who are bystanders, the proper tools to intervene in situations that seem worrisome, despite their own personal relationship, or organizational barriers.
Encouraging bystanders to take action is one of the key program efforts outlined in the SAPR annual report on sexual assault in the military.
“This year’s campaign slogan is ‘Protecting our people protects our mission’,” said Cuthbert. “When people feel valued and respected as a part of the team they are more likely to give their best work. If we protect our people then ultimately our mission will be more successful.”
Sexual assault awareness month is important in that it continues to reinforce conversation and awareness surrounding sexual violence and sexual assault around the world.
“Small choices in our daily lives create ripples; both good and bad,” said Arends. “The choices you decide to make will impact other people’s lives. Every Airman has a responsibility to look out for one another. Now is the time to be proactive.”