The number of sexual assaults reported by servicemembers during the past two years, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The chiefs recently released a “32-star” letter to commanders and leaders in the form of a document titled Strategic Direction to the Joint Force on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (PDF).
In what is mandatory reading for all commanders and leaders, the letter says the mission is to reduce and ultimately eliminate incidences of sexual assault, and establish an environment of mutual respect and trust, and a work place where the act is not tolerated.
Sexual assault is a crime that erodes the bonds of trust essential for military units to succeed and puts all members of the military team at risk. The chiefs stressed that prevention and response must be emphasized in all aspects of planning, training and mission execution -- requiring actual leadership, not just a “checking-the-box” mentality.
The Department of Defense (DoD) FY 2011 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military (PDF) mentioned that the department launched a DoD Safe Helpline In April 2011 as a source of support for adult service members who have been sexually assaulted.
Safe Helpline is owned by the Department and operated by the non-profit Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, through a contractual agreement with DoD SAPRO.
Safe Helpline boasts a robust database of military and civilian services available for referral. The database also contains SARC contact information for each Military Service, the National Guard, and the Coast Guard as well as referral information for legal resources, chaplain support, healthcare services, the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Military OneSource, and 1,100 civilian rape crisis affiliates.
The report said that from its launch date till the end of FY 2011, the Safe Helpline website had more than 16,300 unique visitors and assisted more than 770 individuals via online and telephone hotline sessions and texting referral services.