When the sexual assault scandal involving more than a dozen Military Training Instructors made the news last year it sent a shock wave of questions across not only Lackland AFB, Texas, but the Air Force as a whole.
Parents felt that their daughters and sons were safe and protected. After all, they were being trained by well-respected service men and women in our great Air Force. Who would think they’d have to worry about the threat of sexual assault?
Our senior leaders did not take the subject of these alleged sexual assaults lightly, and vowed to get to the bottom of the scandal and institute new changes to protect our men and women. Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force Chief of Staff, has stated “The goal for sexual assault in the United States Air Force is ZERO. If you’re a commander or supervisor and you are not directly and aggressively involved in speaking up about this issue in your unit, then you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta led the charge in putting the changes in place. The first change put in place was Military Rule of Evidence 514 giving the Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Victim Advocates privileged communication, the same privilege as doctor to patient, attorney to client and clergy to parishioner. Secondly, military family members over the age of 18 are now able to report allegations of sexual assault to the SARC or VA without triggering an investigation, also known as the Restricted Report.
The third new process is known as Expedited Transfer. When an active duty member reports a sexual assault in the Unrestricted Report option and an investigation is initiated, the member may qualify for a PCS or PCA assignment. Additionally, active duty members can ask for a Special Victim Counsel and an attorney will be assigned to help them through the legal process.
April is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office holds events during this month to share information on prevention as well as awareness to support survivors of sexual assault. Throughout the month there will be a display of T-shirts designed by members of the Edwards community with messages of hope and encouragement to survivors as well as a weekly display of promotional and informational items.
Stop by the SAPR table in the lobby of the BX each Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and talk to the SARC or a VA.
If you need to speak more privately, contact Kimberly Shirley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (661) 277-7272 or (661) 209-0115.