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Not in my Air Force

By Airman 1st Class Tessa B. Corrick 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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There is no doubt, question, uncertainty or room for sexual assault in the Air Force, only zero tolerance.

Barksdale Air Force Base and the 2nd Bomb Wing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response team are committed to taking strides every day to educate and promote SAPR throughout the installation.

“SAPR is so important to us because sexual assault hinders our ability to do what it is we get paid for and that is to provide combat support and combat power at the time and place of leadership’s choosing,” said Col. Rob Makros, 2nd BW vice commander.

The SAPR program emphasizes that this has to be a team effort and every Airman has a responsibility as a part of the team.

“We should be active participants and intervene when we can,” said Brittany Olivier, 2nd BW sexual assault response coordinator. “Whether that involves helping victims or preventing incidents, we have a duty to act during those situations.”

Olivier said this is best accomplished by promoting communication and respect to those around us. Talking about sex, especially with partners or potential partners, is vitally important to the SAPR mission.

“We also need to support all parties and families involved, and avoid passing judgment on others,” she added. “There are always two sides to every story and two lives, at minimum, affected by a sexual assault. Both parties require support. No matter how much information we know, we were not present at the time of the assault and can never truly know the accounts.”

Recently, trends in sexual assault statistics are proving to show a higher rate of reported incidents throughout the Air Force, according to Fiscal Year 2017 SAPR Statistics. Since Fiscal Year 2012, sexual assault reporting has increased by more than 88 percent, while occurrence has decreased by nearly 45 percent during the same timeframe.

“Since the start of the SAPR program, we have seen more reports, but the dates of the incidents were in the past, validating that people are more comfortable coming forward today,” Olivier said. “However, it is difficult to conclude that fewer incidents are actually occurring because of lack of historical reporting.”

Needless to say, leadership encourages this trend and wants to promote a positive belief in reporting and reaching out for help when it is needed.

“Our SAPR team is world-class,” Makros said. “Their number one goal and priority is to take care of victims of sexual assault by providing them the resources needed to heal.”

Resources available include protective orders, volunteer victim advocates, the mental health office, chaplains, medical services, expedited transfers, special victims counsel and the SAPR office. When seeking out these resources it’s important to keep in mind the two different types of reporting.

“Restricted reporting is completely confidential, meaning there will be no investigation or command notification,” Olivier said. “Unrestricted reporting calls for an investigation. Protective orders and expedited transfer are not available to the victim with restricted reporting. They are reserved for unrestricted reports only.”

Reporting is not only to help the victim, but also hold the perpetrator accountable.

“One sexual assault is one too many within the gates and confines of Barksdale Air Force Base,” Makros said.

This fight is not one that can be won by individual efforts. It is going to take every strength of every person to get behind this objective and up hold the fight for SAPR. 

"It's about trust,” said Gen. David Goldfein, United States Air Force Chief of Staff. “The crime of sexual assault shatters trust and has a direct and negative impact on our capabilities as a warfighting force. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a bystander in this fight. We are all in. From the newest Airman to the most senior leader, every one of us has a responsibility to step forward and help stop sexual assault before it happens."

For more information, contact the Barksdale SAPR office at 318-456-6836 or their hotline at 318-456-7272. Additional resources can also be found at safehelpline.org, 877-995-5247, a completely confidential Department of Defense program that offers over-the-phone and online help, including a safe help room, an app, and self-paced educational programs. Project Celebration, 318-227-7900, is a local community partner to the SAPR office that works with children and adults involved with sexual assault and domestic violence.