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Sexual Assault Prevention Efforts Continue at McEntire

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- Thursday, Dec. 4, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the findings of a Presidential-mandated report on sexual assaults in the military.

The Defense Department's aggressive efforts to prevent sexual assault in the military are having an impact, but there's much more work to be done, Secretary Hagel told Pentagon reporters during the press conference.

"We believe that our efforts to prevent sexual assault are beginning to have an impact," he said. "Compared to 2012, the DoD-wide survey we are releasing today shows that the prevalence of sexual assault in the military over the past year has decreased by about 25 percent,"

Hagel said in announcing the findings from the department's comprehensive report on sexual assault and the actions it is taking to prevent it. The defense secretary said stopping sexual assault has been one of his highest priorities, and over the past 18 months the department has taken aggressive action.

"I've directed over 28 new initiatives over the last year to strengthen how we prevent and respond to sexual assault in the military," Hagel said.

Here at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, the South Carolina Air National Guard is keeping up an aggressive training plan to combat sexual assault within its ranks.

"Over the last few years the Department of Defense has made a real effort to eliminate sexual assaults from the military," said Capt. Marian Burgess, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator on base. "Here locally our wing's leadership has emphasized time and again their willingness to fight sexual assault."

Burgess said face-to-face SAPR training will continue for all members for the South Carolina Air National Guard. This training complements the training new Airmen get at basic training and others get at various professional education schools throughout their military careers.

The report highlights the prevalence rate of unwanted sexual contact decreased for both men and women since Fiscal Year 2012 across all branches of the military. For the Air Force, the prevalence rate for women dropped .81 percent (from 3.1 percent in FY12 to 2.29 percent in FY14). The prevalence rate for men dropped .07 percent (from .5 percent in FY12 to .43 percent in FY14). 

The report also states that reporting has increased 16 percent since Fiscal Year 2013 and 61 percent over the three-year period. The decrease in prevalence and increase in reporting resulted in approximately one in three victims reporting the crime in Fiscal Year 2014 as compared to one in six in Fiscal Year 2012. The report was organized and directed by the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office and supported by the Defense Manpower Data Center and used feedback and recommendations from service members. It received more than 145,000 voluntary responses, which is the highest response rate ever seen.

To see a full copy of the report, please visit:  http://sapr.mil/index.php/annual-reports

(Information compiled from a DoD News article)