FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Fairchild held a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response down day Thursday, June 27, in concordance with a Department of Defense mandate for service members and civilian employees. The down day began with a wing-wide commander's call in a base hangar, with remarks from Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Wendy Hansen, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Command Chief.
"We're here because this is a significant day for our military," said Newberry in his opening remarks. "We have never had a down day across DoD to talk about one issue. Sexual assault is eating away at our military right now. It is cracking the foundation. It is cracking that foundation of respect for each other. Our national leaders are very much involved in fixing this for us."
This is not a female- or male-specific problem, said Hansen. This is an Airman problem. We need to solve it together. Are we doing the right things to take care of ourselves as wingmen?
The opening remarks from base leadership were supplemented by a video from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody. "Airmen share a special bond. We have to be able to trust each other," said Gen. Welsh in the video statement.
Following the commander's call, the base split up into its smaller units for comprehensive presentations and discussions on resources available for reporting and preventing sexual assault and harassment.
Following the unit presentations, the groups were broken down further into smaller office presentations and discussions involving scenarios about harassment and assault. Among the topics covered were Values, Morals & Ethics, Tolerance by Inaction, Consent and Accountability.
"I think the small group sessions were the most productive thing I have done for SAPR/SARC briefings outside of Victim Advocate training," said Airman 1st Class John Prieto, 92nd Logistics and Readiness Squadron Mobility. "Most people in my group said the same."
An estimated 26,000 personnel across the DoD experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact in 2012. 88 percent of those victims were female and 12 percent were male. The gender of the subjects was even more lopsided, with 90 percent male, 2 percent female and 8 percent unidentified. Female service members experienced a 4.4 percent increase in unwanted sexual contact in 2012.
"Myself and the Victim Advocates (VAs) have chosen to be in these positions because we are passionate about working with male or female victims of sexual assault," said Fairchild Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Jessica Bradshaw. "We understand that sexual assault is a traumatic life altering crime; all victims deserve nothing less than respect, support, and assistance through their healing process."
"Sexual assault is not about he-said/she-said," said Hansen following the down day. "It is not about women as victims or men as untrustworthy. Sexual harassment and sexual assault are crimes perpetrated by predators, and those predators come in all ages, both genders, and hold all ranks.
"Sexual assault prevention is about building and maintaining safe, professional environments so the predators among us are not empowered. Sexual assault eradication is about owning the problem, understanding and controlling our strong emotional reaction to it, and generating a culture change across the DoD. We are brothers and sisters in arms, we are Fairchild, and it can start with us."
For more information and resources available on- and off-base, please contact the base SAPR Office at 509-247-4444 or 509-247-7272 (24/7 crisis response line).
To obtain current and correct data on sexual assault statistics in the military, please visit http://www.sapr.mil/public/docs/reports/FY12_DoD_SAPRO_Annual_Report_on_Sexu