CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and the Department of Defense is calling attention to the resources available to service members who were victims of sexual assault.
According to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, it is every service member’s responsibility to prevent sexual assault and maintain the cohesiveness and combat effectiveness of the unit by utilizing the UVA and SARC’s services and resources.
“Together, we must assure an environment where sexual assault is neither condoned nor ignored,” said Carter. “We must reinforce a culture of prevention, accountability, dignity, and respect throughout our ranks; and we must advocate for and staunchly support all who courageously report this crime.
The Marine Corps trains Uniformed Victim Advocates and Sexual Assault Response Coordinators to provide resources to victims and to support them throughout the healing process.
Sexual assault is not tolerated in the Marine Corps as it impedes a unit or members’ morale effectiveness, efficiency, and impairs the ability of the unit to function smoothly.
Sexual assault includes rape, nonconsensual sodomy, indecent assault, or any attempts to commit these acts. Sexual assault can occur without regard to gender, spousal relationship or age of victim.
Uniformed Victim Advocate: Supporting and Protecting Victims of Sexual Assault
The Uniformed Victim Advocate is a Marine or Sailor that provides support, protection and care for victims of sexual assault by providing non-clinical information on available options and resources that the victim can utilize to make informed decisions throughout the healing process. The UVA maintains contact with the victims and supports them for as long as needed.
“The UVA is important because he or she provides a link between the SARC and the active duty Marine,” said Master Sgt. Eric D. Pugh, Uniform Victim Advocate, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Installations-West. ”Marines have a very unique warrior personality and UVAs understand what Marines go through so it helps connect them to the civilian population and the resources available.”
The UVA reports directly to the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), who may be military, civilian or a contractor. They support the victims by providing crisis interventions, referrals, on-going non-clinical support and policy and process guidance. They facilitate monthly case status updates and are able to respond to victims 24 hours, seven days a week.
Sexual Assault Response Coordinator: Bridging sexual assault victims with those who can help
The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator is considered the center of gravity when it comes to ensuring that victims of sexual assault receive appropriate and responsive care. They serve as a point of contact to coordinate medical care. They manage and assign uniformed victim advocates, and providing oversight on all sexual cases.
“The SARC plays a very important role in providing information and a link between civilian victim advocates, the command element and the resources that are out there that might not be filtered down to the battalion level,” said Pugh.
The SARC manages sexual assault cases throughout its entire lifecycle and tracks the services provided to a victim from the initial report to the resolution - as long as necessary to provide care to the victim.
To get in touch with a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, a Uniformed Victim Advocate, or request additional information regarding sexual assault, please contact the Marine Corps Installations West Sexual Assault Response Coordinator at 760-725-4460 or 760-725-6048.