Sexual assault prevention: Strengthening the force through positive action

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Leonard Patrick
  • 502nd Air Base Wing commander
Can any of us truly say our behaviors never affect another person, either directly or indirectly?

Our behaviors often have a ripple effect. Whether positive or negative, they impact those around us. Our behaviors can have far-reaching consequences, affecting people and organizations both directly and indirectly.

Members of the military -- especially those in supervisory positions -- understand the power of this phenomenon and use it to shape behaviors, culture and Airmen. Praise a worker in front of his peers for example, and you will have more than just one proud worker - you will see others within the section strive for excellence.

Reprimand someone who is behaving unprofessionally, usually better done in private, and the lesson taught is learned by all who know about it.

This year the Department of Defense is educating people on sexual assault and the ripple effects that happen when one of its members is sexually assaulted. This year's theme, "Hurts one ... Affects all," emphasizes that sexual assault not only affects the victim, the accused, family members and friends; it affects mission readiness.

According to a DoD fiscal year 2009 report, 2,670 military victims reported they were sexually assaulted last year. Of these, 546 were Airmen.

The impact from just one sexual assault is profound; the impact from more than 500 victims is inconceivable.

Let there be no doubt that sexual assault negatively impacts the Air Force mission, our teammates and our successes.

If we all concentrate our efforts on preventing sexual assault, we can eliminate its devastating effects. We need to examine our wingman behaviors and do what we can to promote a positive ripple effect among our force.

A strong educational awareness program promotes positive behaviors, helps prevent sexual assault and strengthens our force.

Speaking up against inappropriate behaviors, intervening on someone else's behalf and supporting victims affected by this crime greatly helps sexual assault prevention and the detrimental impact of these events.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month or SAAM. Joint Base San Antonio has a variety of events planned for Lackland, Randolph and Fort Sam Houston. Participating in a SAAM event has a positive influence in our lives, and contributes to the eradication of sexual assault among the services.

I ask that you and your family participate in SAAM events and increase your knowledge about sexual assault prevention. I also ask that you take care of your wingman. If you see someone in trouble, intervene and hold offenders accountable for their actions.

Together, we can change this year's theme from "Hurts one ... Affects all," to "Helps one ... Affects all."

For more information about Sexual Assault Awareness Month or sexual assault support services at Joint Base San Antonio, contact the Sexual Assault Prevention and Outreach program at 671-7272.