By Maj. Gen. Donna Martin and Command Sgt. Maj. James Breckinridge
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. At Fort Leonard Wood, we reaffirm our commitment to ending the scourge of sexual violence in our teams, to supporting survivors, and to building a force which ends these terrible acts.
There is no place for sexual assault in our military. The American people have entrusted us to care for their sons and daughters. They should know by our actions that our people are our most precious resource.
Even after the physical injuries of a sexual assault have healed, emotional and mental trauma can persist. Survivors often struggle with lingering anxiety, fear, anger, shame and depression. The devastating aftermath can also harm a survivor’s relationships with their loved ones, their unit, and even themselves.
Prevention is important to protect all our teammates, maintain trust, and support the Army Values. Reporting is critical to eradicate sexual attackers. Eradicating sexual assault from our team is essential to unit readiness.
Leaders are responsible for ensuring our teammates treat one another with dignity and respect, and educate our service members on building strong relationships, safely intervening and knowing the available resources.
Unit Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention trainers, victim advocates, medical facilities, and chaplains are here to help. The DoD Safe Helpline at 1.877.995.5247 and the Fort Leonard Wood Helpline at 573.855.1327 provide anonymous crisis support. Our helpline is also auto-dialed from the safe and secure phones located in all regular, quarantine and isolation barracks.
Trust is the bedrock of our profession. We must maintain this trust through competence, character, and commitment in all we do. We are grateful for our Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and civilians who serve this great nation, and we count on each of you to help prevent and eliminate every danger to our force.
Victory Starts Here…Victory Through Skill!
(Editor’s note: Martin is the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general. Breckinridge is the MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood command sergeant major.)