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Posts Tagged ‘sexual harassment’

Military news outlets confirmed that the officer in charge of the U.S. Air Force effort to curb sexual assaults and harassment was arrested over the weekend.

A Lieutenant Colonel was arrested on Sunday and charged with sexual battery after he allegedly grabbed a woman by the breasts and buttocks.   An Arlington County Police spokesman said the woman fended off the attacker, who was under the influence of alcohol, and when he attempted to grab her a second time she was able to call the police, who arrived a short time later and detained him.

The attacker was initially held on a $5,000 unsecured bond.  He has since posted bond and been released from the Arlington County Detention Facility.

The Air Force said that the Lieutenant Colonel, had been removed from his job as chief of the service’s sexual assault prevention and response branch after his arrest.

Stories like this need to be shared in military circles.  It is an odd and ironic story because of the person’s duty assignment, but there are some common themes that need to be highlighted.

1.  The military has a zero tolerance policy on sexual assault and harassment.  You will be punished for violating this policy.  It may cost you your paycheck, your current assignment, your job, your military career, or your freedom as you sit in a jail cell.

2.  Alcohol use is reported in a majority of sexual assault causes.  If you drink, be responsible.  Do not allow excess to impair your judgment or behavior.  If you are serving alcohol, recognize when a person has had enough.

3.   You have the right to physically defend yourself.   Let us applaud the victim for defending / protecting herself, immediately calling the police, and standing up for her rights as an individual.

4.  Make time to file a report.  Too many service members fail to report incidents like this.  Know that you can always file an unrestricted report in a military setting.  This will limit who knows the incident took place, but allows you to receive care and counseling.

If you have questions, want to know your options, want to talk with a counselor, or need to report a sexual assault in the military, call 877-995-5247 or click www.safehelpline.org.  The DoD Safe Help Line is a 24/7 resource for all service branches.

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The Joint Chiefs of Staff have recently outlined new policies to deter sexual assaults in the armed forces.

One of the major changes will happen at basic training for new recruits in every service branch.  New recruits will receive training on sexual assault policies within their first two weeks on active duty.  Making sure that recruits are educated on right conduct and appropriate behavior will go a long way in the force.  This prevention and education effort should be viewed as an important step in reducing sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military.

Additional policy changes include ensuring that sexual assault cases are handled by officers at the Colonel or O-6 level, and forming a new Special Victims Units across each service branch in order to better investigate assaults and bring more perpetrators to justice.  Cases will no longer be dropped by low-level commanders who can prevent investigations from moving forward with flimsy excuses.  Cases will instead move past the local unit level and be pushed up the chain of command for investigation by senior officers.

While these changes are new and still being fine tuned for implementation, I hope that advocacy efforts will also be a part of the equation.  All of the services need to provide high levels of support through unit victim advocates, sexual assault response coordinators, medical services, legal representation, and counseling.

Veterans and service members can make confidential reports to a chaplain, healthcare provider, sexual assault response coordinator, or victim advocate.  If you need help or have questions you can call 877-995-5247 or click www.safehelpline.org for additional resources.

 

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