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Pease extends SAPR services to Air Force civilians

SAPR

Department of the Air Force civilians assigned to the New Hampshire Air National Guard at Pease are now eligible to use the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program services following the release of an AF policy memo Aug. 24.

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Department of the Air Force civilians assigned to the New Hampshire Air National Guard at Pease are now eligible to use the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program services following the release of an AF policy memo Aug. 24.

The policy, which is effective immediately, allows AF civilian employees who are victims of sexual assault to file restricted and unrestricted reports with their installation's Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC). It also enables SARCs and SAPR Victim Advocates to assist AF civilians who report sexual assaults by providing crisis intervention and advocacy services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Pease AF civilians can reach the installation SARC at 603-430-2482 during duty hours and at 603-812-1239 during off-duty hours.

"Our civilian Airmen are valuable members of our team, and we're going to support them," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. "While this is a huge win for the Air Force and our civilian force, we will continue to work at all levels to prevent sexual assault."

The Department of Defense recently signed an exception to policy, granting the Air Force the authority to extend SAPR services. Air Force civilian employees will now receive the same services as those already eligible to use SARC services, with the exception of legal and non-emergency medical services, which are restricted by law. Prior to this exception, only civilian employees at overseas locations and their dependents 18 years old or older were eligible to use SARC services, and they could only file unrestricted reports.

The new policy ushers in positive changes for the Pease Air National Guard SAPR program, said 1st Lt. Melinda Fuller, 157th Air Refueling Wing SARC.

"This change recognizes that Air Force civilians are an essential part of the Air Force, Air National Guard community and reemphasizes that everyone has a role in this process--to create an environment of dignity and respect, free from sexual assault," Fuller said. "The biggest difference with this change is offering Air Force civilians a reporting option, which will in turn track the number of reports."

While the new policy does not offer legal or non-emergency medical services to Air Force civilians, the Pease SAPR office can provide referral services for civilians who need them.

"For legal assistance, we have great resources to refer to if an Air Force civilian needs to make a restricted or unrestricted report," Fuller said. "In addition to legal referrals, we will do the same regarding non-emergency services in facilitating a warm hand-off to our fellow helping agencies."

SARCs and SAPR victim advocates will assist in contacting the appropriate law enforcement agency for Air Force civilians who file unrestricted reports to ensure reports are properly investigated and prosecuted. They will also be able to help civilians identify and contact additional off-base support organizations as needed.

"Our SARCs and victim advocates provide invaluable support and assistance to our uniformed Airmen who have suffered from this horrible crime," said Maj. Gen. Gina Grosso, the Air Force SAPR director. "We knew we could do more to help our civilian Airmen, so we sought an exception to policy to allow the Air Force to extend the same care and support to civilian victims as we do to our military Airmen and their families."

Fuller encourages all personnel to contact the SAPR office with questions about SAPR service eligibility. The SAPR office can be reached during duty hours at 603-430-2482. SAPR services are also available after duty hours by calling the SAPRO Emergency Helpline at 603-812-1239.

(Editor's note: 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs contributed to this article)
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