SAPR Stand-down Day: Deter, ensure, rebuild

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
From October 2012 to September 2013, the Department of Defense received 5,061 reports of alleged sexual assault - a 50 percent increase over the reports received in Fiscal 2012, according to the DoD Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military.

In observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James is charging all Airmen to join senior leaders in taking action against sexual assault.

"During the last year, the Air Force has worked hard to combat sexual assault," James said. "We have invested in programmatic, educational and resourcing efforts aimed at reinforcing a zero tolerance environment. The Air Force's mission depends on Airmen having complete trust and confidence in one another . . . As such, our SAPR [Sexual Assault Prevention and Response] program is a priority both for ensuring readiness and taking care of our Airmen."

To reinforce an attitude of zero tolerance in the Air Force, SAPR stand-down days were held across Malmstrom Air Force Base May 12 to 16. The focus of this year's SAPR day is identifying offenders, with a theme of "believe the victim."

Up until now, we've put a lot of focus on the victim, said Col. Marné Deranger, 341st Missile Wing vice commander. By focusing on the perpetrator we can better deter them, just as the mission of Malmstrom is to defend America with safe, secure, effective nuclear forces and combat-ready Airmen.

The interactive day-long SAPR stand-down days included various exercises and possible situations, all to encourage Airmen the importance of intervening and learning how to identify characteristics of an offender.

"We can't just assume that just because everyone's wearing the uniform, they have the same values," Deranger said. "A female in the military is six times more likely to be sexually assaulted if they work in a hostile working environment - be careful of the pictures you post on social media websites," Deranger said.

Debra Glenn, licensed clinical social worker and 341st MW Sexual Assault Victim Advocate, says it is imperative that everyone has the courage to push past our comfort zones by intervening - even if you think you're the only person offended by an inappropriate joke - be a leader, not an enabler.

By providing annual SAPR stand-down training days, the Air Force continues to work toward identifying and deterring perpetrators, encouraging victims to come forward and building/reinforcing the Air Force climate of zero tolerance against sexual assault.

"Sexual assault has no place in our Air Force," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. "We live in a culture of respect. We cherish our core values of integrity, service and excellence. But in order to ensure all Airmen experience and benefit from those values, we must eliminate sexual assault in our ranks."