Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month at Osan Air Base

by Airman 1st Class Gwendalyn Smith, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Stripes Korea

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- April is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and is also recognized by the Department of Defense.

The vision of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program is to establish a basis for recovery and eliminate sexual assault from the ranks of the DoD. 

“People hear about sexual assault, but they don’t really think about what they’re hearing,” said 1st Lt. Hanna Sparks, 51st Fighter Wing SAPR coordinator. “Everybody gets their annual brief, but I think having a month dedicated to sexual assault awareness gives people more of an opportunity to think ‘What does this mean to me.’ Sexual assault effects everyone because it’s a societal issue.”

Although this month raises awareness, Team Osan’s SAPR advocates work year-round to ensure that victims of sexual assault have the support they need. That’s why Team Osan’s theme for this year is #NotJustApril.

“I think that [SAAPM] reminds people that our office [is here],” said Sandra Beecher, 51st FW SAPR victim advocate. “It puts us into the spotlight for a few weeks. Our message is very two-fold. We are working toward a culture change, but we are also here behind the scenes taking care of individuals when bad things happen. From the emergency room to the Office of Special investigations, advocates are there.”

The SAPR office offers restricted and unrestricted reporting options. When personnel file a restricted report there is no investigation and everything is kept confidential. Unrestricted reports are followed with an investigation and the chain of command is notified. Both are handled with the same amount of care and support.

To report restricted, victims must tell SAPR advocates first.

“We have what are called mandatory reporters, which includes leadership, law enforcement and supervisors,” said Sparks. “If the chain of command finds out, they have to inform law enforcement. So basically, if the chain of command finds out about the incident before we do, victims don’t really have the option.”

No matter the type of report, Team Osan handles the situation with care.

“This is my fourth assignment and third branch to work for,” said Beecher. “I am continually impressed with every facet of the response from leadership here at Osan, and I don’t say that lightly. If we say we need something for somebody, it gets done and it gets done with care and compassion.”

The compassion represented in situations like these enables recovery and assistance ensuring that personnel are always ready to “Fight Tonight”. To contact a SAPR advocate call 031-661-SARC or 784-SARC (DSN).

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