Alaska National Guard holds day for sexual assault prevention and response dialogue

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Both the Alaska Air and Army National Guard spent half a work day here April 24 to discuss issues and statistics of sexual assault in the Alaska National Guard.

The stand down awareness day was held to generate awareness of sexual assault prevention and response as April is Sexual Assault Prevention and Response month.

The object of the stand down day was to nurture an organization which members would be proud being a part of, according to Chief Master Sgt. Steven Calvin, the command chief of the Alaska Air National Guard.

Full-time members met en masse to discuss accurate statistics of misconduct within the Alaska National Guard, as well as meeting in individual sections to watch a clip of speaker Mary Lauterbauch, mother of a deceased military sexual assault victim, and discuss sexual assault prevention and response with their section commanders.

"I believe one sexual assault is too many," said Brig. Gen. Donald S. Wenke, commander of the 176th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard. "If we as Midnight Sun Guardians keep this mentality, then we are going to continue to build a culture of zero tolerance."

Editor's Note: Below is the Sexual Assault memo for stand down

The Alaska National Guard has received media coverage in the past year with regards to sexual misconduct and sexual assault in our ranks. Understandably, this has created some concern among members of our organization. We have compiled existing data from the past five years to provide a comprehensive explanation to our members with the accurate facts.

Tracking Reports. The Alaska National Guard sexual assault response coordinator, Octavia Thompson, tracks all sexual assaults that are reported to her. Her database includes the number of reports to the two wing-level SARCs and 42 victim advocates in units throughout the Alaska National Guard. There are several facets of sexual misconduct that don't rise to the level of sexual assault; things such as fraternization or sexual harassment, which are not tracked by SARCs.

Restricted and Unrestricted Reporting. As all of our members have learned during annual sexual assault awareness training, a victim may choose to file an unrestricted report or restricted report. If a victim chooses unrestricted reporting, it gives victim advocates permission to notify the victim's command and local law enforcement. Unrestricted reporting also gives us the opportunity to ensure offenders are disciplined to the full extent of our means.

Providing Resources and Support is the Priority. A victim can report a sexual assault to a SARC or victim advocate even if his/her perpetrator is not a member of the Alaska National Guard. The assault may have even taken place before the victim was a member of the Guard. We still provide victims with resources and assistance, and their report is still tracked in our system, and added to our overall report numbers.

Summary of Results. There have been 37 cases of alleged sexual assault since 2009 reported to a SARC or victim advocate in the AKNG. In 26 of the 37 cases, the alleged perpetrator was NOT a member of the Alaska National Guard. We have 11 reports in the past 5 years where the alleged perpetrator was a member of the Alaska National Guard.

Year: Total Number of Reported Cases (Restricted and Unrestricted)
2014: 1 (Unrestricted, 1 not in the AKNG)
2013: 11 (8 were unrestricted; 5 not in the AKNG)
2012: 3 (2 unrestricted; all 3 not in AKNG)
2011: 12 (10 unrestricted; 11 not in the AKNG)
2010: 6 (5 unrestricted; all 5 not in the AKNG)
2009: 4 (2 unrestricted; 1 not in the AKNG)

All unrestricted cases were referred to law enforcement.
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