Airmen discuss culture change during sexual assault stand-down day

by Airman 1st Class Hailey Haux
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Photo by Airman 1st Class Hailey Haux Brig. Gen. Patrick X. Mordente, 86th Airlift Wing commander, speaks to Airmen of the 86th AW Tuesday on Ramstein.
Photo by Airman 1st Class Hailey Haux
Brig. Gen. Patrick X. Mordente, 86th Airlift Wing commander, speaks to Airmen of the 86th AW Tuesday on Ramstein.

Dignity, honor and respect are words usually associated with the Air Force, which is why sexual assaults are completely unacceptable.Leaders and Airmen at Ramstein used the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response stand-down held here Tuesday to stress the point that even one sexual assault in our Air Force is one too many.

Brig. Gen. Patrick X. Mordente, 86th Airlift Wing commander, conducted two commander’s calls for 86th AW Airmen.
Mordente emphasized Defense Department and Air Force zero tolerance for sexual assault and reaffirmed a commitment to eliminate sexual assault from the Air Force.
Following commander’s calls, unit leaders facilitated with their Airmen. This included listening to guest speakers, watching educational videos, and having  open conversations about this issue and what can be done to combat it. One of the key topics included how to get bystanders to step in and speak up when they see something is wrong.

“This is a day where we are able to reiterate that these crimes won’t be tolerated in our Air Force, and we all have an obligation and a responsibility in trying to prevent these crimes from happening to our fellow Airmen,” said Capt. Scott Simoneaux, KMC sexual assault response coordinator. “This directed SAPR down-day is a great time for Airmen to reflect on the devastation caused by these crimes and what we can do to prevent them from happening in the future.”

Simoneaux said there were 29 Air Force sexual assault cases reported in the KMC during the calendar year 2012. Of these 29, all but six involved alcohol, and in all but five, the victim knew the perpetrator prior to the incident.

“These crimes have a profound and lasting effect, not only on the victims of the crime, but units as well. Units are composed of people and when its people are greatly impacted, so too is mission readiness,” Simoneaux said. The stand-down day also included a 100 percent check of credentials and qualifications of currently serving Air Force recruiters, sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates by the Air Force Audit Agency.

“SARCs and VAs are entrusted with a great responsibility of helping survivors of sexual assaults.  We are often times the first person a victim may talk to following a sexual assault,” Simoneaux said. “The care we provide early on through crisis intervention may set the tone for recovery from what is most often an extremely traumatic event. This is why it’s so vital we have the right people performing these duties.  The background checks and accrediting help to ensure this is the case.” Along with checking credentials, the SARCs and VAs will receive refresher training on professional and critical responsibilities, standards and the impact on mission readiness for violations of Defense Department standards.

“This course reaffirmed the values, morals and ethics that guide us as a SAPR community to ensuring victims of these devastating crimes are well cared for. It reminded us we are held to a higher standard while performing these duties and rightfully so,” Simoneaux said. “The trust a victim puts in us is immense. Breach of this trust through lapsed ethical judgment not only affects present and past victims put potentially future victims needing care.” The overall message from stand-down day was that everyone needs to get involved to help prevent this from happening and to change the culture that feeds into the unacceptable behaviors.

“The solution to this problem is right here; it’s every single one of us,” Mordente said. “This is our problem … one sexual assault is one too many. Our goal should be zero.”
If you or anyone you know was involved in a sexual assault, contact the SARC hotline at 06371-47-7272 or visit