SAAPM: Protecting our people protects our mission

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --

April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

To help combat sexual assaults, base leadership hosted a Proclamation Ceremony, April 3, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

“Our Airmen are the most important and significant piece to the Air Force,” said Col. Christopher Sage, 4th Fighter Wing commander. “If we don’t watch out for each other and take care of each other, then we are letting them down. It’s everyone’s job to make sure that we are all safe and respected.”

Each year, the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office brings awareness to SAAPM by creating a theme to deliver messages that relate on both the individual and unit level.

The 2017 SAAPM theme is "Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission."

The first part of the theme represents the most vital part of SAPR, protecting the people.

According to the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, all service members, regardless of their rank, must adhere to the values and standards of behavior to help eliminate inappropriate behavior and sexual assault.

The second half of the theme signifies the impact sexual assault can have on the mission.

According to the DoD, when inappropriate behavior or sexual assault occurs in the workplace, it affects unit cohesion and trust. This, in turn, can lead to a stressful work environment, which not only affects the work, but can reduce the overall morale of the shop, making it an unpleasant place to be which then impacts the mission.

Staff Sgt. Angele Longbrake, 305th Maintenance Operations Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of maintenance data analysis and keynote speaker for the ceremony, said survivors should take small steps every day to not allow the situation to conquer them.

“It’s about healing and rediscovering yourself,” Longbrake said. “If someone you know or love is a survivor of an assault, you need to genuinely support them so they can recover. Speak up, get help and remember it’s not your fault.”

Longbrake added that if someone looks like they need assistance, intervene. Ask them if they need help and stop the situation from getting worse and if needed, help them report the assault.

The following individuals are eligible for both the unrestricted and restricted reporting  option through the SAPR office:  Active duty members and their dependents, 18 and older, AF Reserve and ANG members in Title 10 status who are sexually assaulted when performing active service and inactive duty training and AF civilian employees, both appropriated and non-appropriated.  The Family Advocacy Program will manage the case if a victim has been assaulted by their spouse, same sex domestic partner, and/or unmarried intimate partner, or is 17 years of age and younger.

There are two options when reporting sexual assaults - restricted and unrestricted.

Restricted Reporting: A process used to report or disclose that he or she is a victim of sexual assault to specified officials on a requested confidential basis. Under these circumstances the victim’s report and any details provided to the SARC, healthcare personnel, SAPR victim advocate or a volunteer victim advocate will not be reported to law enforcement.  A restricted report allows you to receive legal advice, medical and advocacy services, but does not trigger an investigation. A victim has the option to change to an unrestricted report at a later time.  Communication with a military chaplain is protected and will not be shared, however, chaplains cannot accept a restricted report.

Unrestricted Reporting: A process that an individual uses to disclose, without requesting confidentiality or restricted reporting, that he or she is the victim of a sexual assault. Under these circumstances, the victim’s report and any details provided to their chain of command, law enforcement, SARC, healthcare personnel, a SAPR victim advocate or volunteer victim advocate may be used to initiate the official investigation process. An unrestricted report allows you to receive medical treatment, advocacy services and legal support.  You may be eligible for other protections including a Military Protective Order and an expedited transfer. With this option, DoD law enforcement triggers an investigation and your chain of command is notified.

If you have been sexually assaulted or think you have been, go to a safe location away from the attacker. Contact your local sexual assault response coordinator, victim advocate or healthcare provider.

Seek medical care as soon as possible. Even if there are no visible physical injuries, you may be at risk of becoming pregnant or acquiring a sexually transmitted disease.

Ask the healthcare provider to conduct a sexual assault forensic examination and if you suspect you have been drugged, request that a urine sample be collected.

Preserve all evidence of the assault. Do not bathe, wash your hands or brush your teeth. Do not clean or straighten up the crime scene. Also write down, tape or record all the details you can recall about the assault and your assailant.

In recognition of SAAPM month, info booths will be spread out across the base and a 5K color run will be held April 29 at 8 a.m. starting at Perimeter Road.

For more information or if you have been sexually assaulted, please call the Sexual Assault Response Hotline at 919-722-7272 or 919-920-7272.

Visit the following websites for more information:

www.seymourjohnson.af.mil/Units/SARC.aspx

www.af.mil/SAPR.aspx

www.sapr.mil/

safehelpline.org/

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