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April: Sexual Assault Awareness Month

PATRICK AFB, Fla. --      "Hurts one... affects all. Preventing sexual assault is everyone's duty." This year's theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month is something that needs to be a daily part of everyone's lives, both in and out of the military.

     Here at the 45th Space Wing, we do not and will not ever tolerate sexual assault or harassment. Sexual assault is a crime and violates our core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do.

     Let's take a look at how sexual assault not only affects the victim, but everyone else. By having one of our members assaulted, one of our Airmen, an important team member is harmed, not from an enemy but from a fellow American. All of the people who know the victim, from the coworker who shares a workspace, to his or her parents, are impacted negatively by such an act. Their lives are changed forever as they wrestle with what happened.

     The ripples of harm produced from such an act are so vast and powerful, that we must, and I mean must, hold offenders accountable and remain committed to completely eliminating sexual assault from our Air Force. 

     We can help do this by making sure that each of us realizes that, as our Air Force leadership recently wrote, "Every Airman has the moral obligation and professional duty to intervene appropriately and prevent an assault, even when it means taking difficult or unpopular actions." That's what being a leader is about. That's what being an Airman is about. That's what being a wingman is about--regardless of what you wear on your sleeve or your collar. Leaders at all levels are responsible for creating an environment, both in the workplace and in people's off-duty time, where sexual harassment or assault will not be tolerated. To do this, leaders have to build an atmosphere of trust, respect, and empathy in their organizations and work centers.

     We know this isn't always easy and we will always remain committed to meeting this challenge. The Air Force and the wing will continue to provide us tools so we can better rise to that challenge. One of the more recent tools is Bystander Intervention Training. It provides all of us tools and skills to help fellow wingmen who may be in trouble and to encourage victims to seek help. Ernie Gray, the wing's Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, 494-7272, is available to help in this effort. Give him a call if you have questions.

     As always, thanks for everything you do.