Deployed wing 'Walks a Mile' for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing here participated in the "Walk A Mile In Their Shoes" in observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month April, 19.

Signs with information on sexual assault were placed along the route while participants read them and walked in silence.

The event was organized by Capt. Richard Laca, the 380th AEW sexual assault response coordinator.

The Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office is the department's single point of authority for sexual assault policy and provides oversight to ensure each of the service's programs complies with DOD policy, Captain Laca said.

SAPRO members, under the leadership of Director Kaye Whitley, continues to lead the department's effort to transform into action its commitment to sexual assault prevention and response. This level of commitment is necessary and must be supported by leaders at all levels. Leaders are charged with creating a climate of confidence and trust where everyone is afforded respect and dignity.

Since the beginning of its SAPRO program, the Air Force has made great strides in the different reporting options, as well as, created a climate of confidence in reporting, Captain Laca said Active and retired military members, civilians, contractors, dependent spouses (who do not fall under the intimate partner clause), and family members (age 18 and above) are eligible to report their sexual assault to the SARC. Their sexual assault could have happened either two minutes or twenty years ago. Reporting is the critical first step to being offered the variety of resources available to people who have experienced sexual violence.

The walking event helped raise awareness to more than 100 participants, Captain Laca said. That's good, he said, because sexual assault in all branches of the armed forces continues to be a problem. The Department of Defense's fiscal 2009 report on sexual assault in the military was released in March. There were a total of 3,230 reports of sexual assault involving military service members. Of these, 546 involved Air Force members. Of those cases, 300 were unrestricted reports involving an Airman as either the subject or victim. The remaining 246 cases were restricted reports made by the victims.

"Everyone from our wing commander to the airman basic, as well as, civilian employees and dependents, are highly encouraged to remain on alert and become a pro-active bystander who will report and prevent these types of unacceptable conduct and behavior at all times," Captain Laca said.