In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month, it is important to restate the values we share as Soldiers, Airmen and civilian public servants. We value loyalty, respect and courage. It is imperative that we actively adhere to these values-and step in to prevent the bad acts of others.
Sexual violence disrupts our mission and it destroys lives. We must remember to stay vigilant to ourselves and to each other. This is accomplished by staying attentive to the warning signs and stopping inappropriate behavior at the forefront before it becomes a problem.
It is our responsibility to be active bystanders and speak up when we see an issue. Even more importantly, we must treat the victims that come forward with the utmost respect and encouragement that they deserve. These courageous individuals are taking steps to help themselves, protect others from a similar fate and ultimately, ensure our mission readiness. If you see something that is not appropriate, speak up or report it to your supervisor. Do not stay silent.
The victims of sexual violence are all around us, they are men and women and they are often silent and suffering. The scars are hidden, but the wounds do not go away. Our society is slowly changing and so are the negative stigmas of the victims often associated with these crimes. We are seeing this positive shift as more and more victims from past and current conflicts come forward to get the help that they need to move forward. If you are a victim, please do not stay silent.
To raise awareness and honor survivors of sexual violence, I invite you to show your support by participating in International Denim Day on April 26. You are encouraged to put your uniform aside and wear denim jeans on this day.
Protecting our people, protects our mission. It is everyone's responsibility to ensure that we operate in an environment free from sexual violence. I am counting on all of you to act and report and together, we will continue to foster an environment where this type of behavior is not tolerated.
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) resources:
DoD Safe Helpline