National Sexual Assault Awareness Month: April 2009

April 3, 2009

The topic of sexual assault in the military is one that I’ve written frequently about in the past and one that has been of great importance to Army leadership. Taking care of the victims of sexual assault is something I deal with every day and the prevention of sexual assault in the Army as well as in the civilian world is a passion of mine. In the past 6 months, new initiatives have been announced in the Army, to combat this heinous crime amongst its ranks. The month of April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the Army is in the forefront in participating in this event and bringing awareness to the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Program. In September a summit was held to address this problem in the Army and shortly thereafter, the “I A.M. Strong” campaign was announced, one that would consist of 4 phases that would be introduced over the next 5 years.

The Army is actively participating in National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, by holding activities designed to bring awareness to the heinous nature of this crime. While each installation is holding and participating in various events, each with be doing something to bring awareness to the problem of Sexual Assault and to highlight the programs in place on their installations to serve victims of Sexual Assault. Many installations are partnering with local providers to bring awareness activities to their communities. Many are holding specialized professional training for those who work closely with sexual assault victims, participating in candlelight vigils, as well as various other Sexual Assault Awareness events, throughout the month.

What are the phases of the Army’s “I A.M. Strong” campaign and how does the Army expect that this will help to decrease and eliminate sexual harassment and assault from the Army? This campaign began, as I stated earlier, when the Secretary of the Army introduced the Army’s Sexual Assault and Prevention strategy at the Sexual Assault Prevention and Risk Reduction Training Summit that was held September 8, 2008. That summit was the forum from which the Army launched Phase One of the prevention strategy. Phase 1 is Committed Army Leadership. Ensuring that command is committed to preventing sexual assaults in their units and providing them with the tools to develop their own prevention plans that were in alignment with the Army’s overall strategy.

Phase two focuses on Armywide conviction and includes ensure that Soldier’s are educated in the fact that they have a moral responsibility to intervene to stop sexual assault and harassment and do what they need to, to protect their fellow Soldiers. In the second phase, the focus is engaging the NCOs across the Army. NCOs are first-line supervisors who take care of the Soldiers under them. As NCOs they are able to lead by example, train their Soldiers and enforce the Army standards. By involving NCOs the Army can aggressively take action to ensure that their Soldiers are doing the right thing and insuring that their Soldiers intervene when they see something wrong, by effectively role modeling the desired behavior. In phase three, the culminated effort of phases one and two, in engaging the leadership should come together to “Achieve a Cultural Change” throughout the Army. Effectively creating an environment in which sexual assault and sexual harassment are driven from the ranks of the Army. In the final phase, phase 4, “Sustainment, Refinement and Sharing” the Army will continue to refine and grow the program, all the while working closely with national partners and encouraging them to embrace and support the committed efforts to change negative social behaviors, working towards to goal of effectively eliminating the crime of sexual assault from our culture.

Another focus of the Army’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention program is to ensure that offenders are held accountable. In the past, offenders weren’t always held accountable for their actions, sometimes with the offense being swept under the rug. The Army has taken steps to ensure that offenders are held accountable, by hiring 7 nationally recognized experts in the sexual assault field to work in the Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID). They will fill positions at CID field units, CID headquarters, the Army Military Police School and the US Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory. CID is also hiring additional special agents to form special sexual assault investigation teams to better address the investigations of sexual assaults at 22 major installations across the Army. These agents will receive additional specialized training. In the Army JAG Corps, the Army will hire 15 additional Judge Advocates, whose job it will be to focus exclusively on litigation and training with an emphasis on sexual assault. Those JAG officers will be assigned to the Army’s busiest installations.

I’m encouraged to see the Army take such a proactive role in the response and prevention of sexual assault. I encourage everyone who is able, to find out what events are taking place in your community and to participate in those events. You might be surprised what types of resources are available in your community. The Army considers the fight against Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment one that must be a team effort, to be effective. Only by working together to prevent sexual assaults from happening and working together to form a cohesive team of professionals to respond to the aid of victims of sexual assault, can this trend be reversed. If nothing is happening in your community for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, do something yourself and get the word out about it to the public. There are tons of ideas of events you can hold at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. You can find additional resources, by visiting the Army’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Program website. If you’re aware of Sexual Assault Awareness Month events in your community, or hosting one of your own, that you would like to share with our readers, please either leave that information in the comment section or contact me directly at the following email address, .


One Response to “National Sexual Assault Awareness Month: April 2009”

  1. April is here again. Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)- Respect Works! | on April 13th, 2009 3:04 am


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