MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
In the United States, someone is sexual assaulted every two minutes.
April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month, 30-days where people around the globe dedicate themselves and their organizations to combating this terrible crime.
"We live in a culture of respect," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III. "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."
More than 200,000 Americans are victims of sexual assault each year, according to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network. The trauma extends beyond the physical. Victims are three times more likely to suffer from depression, six times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and four times more likely to contemplate suicide.
Sexual assaults are more common than most Americans believe said the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. The U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey indicated that someone in the United States is sexually assaulted every two minutes. Although this statistic is startling, the Air Force recognizes and addresses the problem.
"Our nation must continue to confront rape and other forms of sexual violence as a deplorable crime," said President Barack Obama in a 2011 proclamation. "Too many victims suffer unaided, and too many offenders elude justice. As we mark National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we recommit to building a society where no woman, man, or child endures the fear of assault or the pain of an attack on their physical well-being and basic human dignity."
Reagan Gagne, 5th Medical Group SAPR response office program manager, said that Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a chance to stand up for victims' rights as well as a pledge to end violence.
"The military is often associated with the term hero, which describes someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty," said Gagne. "This in turn is usually recognized with a medal or award. Victims and survivors of sexual violence are the bravest soldiers of all, yet their personal heroism mostly goes unrecognized."
She went on to say that victims are the ones who cope with the personal trauma and pain that is endured after while continuing to serve their country.
"Victims often go on to help other victims and their community to prevent future violence," she continued. "Knowledge is power and it takes one person to stand up and do something."
For information or help, call your local SARC, or visit the SAPR website for more resources, http://www.afpc.af.mil/library/sapr/