Team Whiteman recognizes Sexual Assault Awareness, Prevention Month

Eric Barreras, Difference Makers 10 Strong founder, speaks to leadership in the auditorium of the PDC.

Eric Barreras, Difference Makers 10 Strong founder, speaks to leadership at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, March 30, 2021. Barreras spoke to base leaders about the importance of clear communication and cooperation between units, personnel and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Parker J. McCauley)

Edward Wilson, Difference Makers 10 Strong speaker, speaks to leadership in front of a DM 10 Strong Poster at the PDC auditorium.

Edward Wilson, Difference Makers 10 Strong speaker, speaks to leadership at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, March 30, 2021. The voluntary presentation encouraged base leadership to discuss the direction of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program and how they work with it to support survivors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Parker J. McCauley)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

U.S. Air Force Col. Jeffrey Schreiner, 509th Bomb Wing commander, and base leaders officially recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month with a proclamation signing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, March 31, 2021.

Each year the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program recognizes April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month to educate service members and support survivors of sexual assault within the DoD. This year’s theme is, “Protecting our people protects our mission.”

"Protecting our Airmen is of the utmost importance," said Schreiner. "I'm honored to sign this proclamation to show our commitment to supporting our SAPR team and the survivors of sexual assault and harassment. We thank the SAPR office for all their hard work helping Team Whiteman."

In addition to the proclamation, the SAPR office has organized numerous events throughout the month to spread awareness, including a trip to the Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis to meet with National Guardsmen assigned to the 131st Bomb Wing to discuss SAPR issues and train leadership, a 5K color run and a bowling event.

“Our goal is to foster positive relationships between the SAPR team and all 131st BW members stationed on Jefferson Barracks Air National Guard Station in St. Louis,” said Jennifer Calcote, 131st BW sexual assault response coordinator. “We want to highlight the National Guard Bureau’s SAAPM 2021 theme: BRAVE, Be – Resilient, Aware, Vigilant, Engaged. The BRAVE model encourages members to seek help early to increase resilience, be aware of the SAPR resources available, be vigilant by recognizing the signs of high risk situations and how to intervene safely to prevent sexual violence, and engage leaders to promote a healthy command climate which addresses inappropriate behavior.”

In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, the base also hosted two presentations from Decision Makers 10 Strong at the professional development center, Mar. 30, 2021.

The first presentation was held virtually for 203 participants and discussed male victimization and breaking the stigma around male victims of sexual assault.

“It is important that we have conversations around male victimization to show male survivors that they are not alone and encourage them to seek help,” said Porsha Foster, 509th BW SAPR specialist. “Oftentimes when we hear sexual assault we assume that the perpetrator is a male and the victim is a female, but that is not always the case. We have to change the way we view sexual assault to include males as the survivor because it does happen and they need support too.”

The second presentation was held for base leadership to discuss effective leadership and supporting SAPR.

According to the Difference Makers 10 Strong presentation description, understanding the importance of maintaining a positive working relationship between military leaders and their supportive SAPR staff is necessary for establishing a climate centered around dignity and respect.

Discussions during the presentation, ranged from SAPR initiatives across the DoD to the meaning of a zero tolerance policy and how important effective communication is to properly support the survivors of sexual assault. The leaders also discussed zero tolerance policies including enforcement and defining the zero tolerance policy.

To learn more about the SAPR program go to: https://www.whiteman.af.mil/SAPR/

If you or someone you know was sexually assaulted and is in need of urgent medical care, get to a safe place and call 911. If you do not need immediate medical assistance, but would like information or to report a sexual assault, contact the Whiteman Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, at (660) 687-7272, or call SafeHelpline.org at (877) 955-5247.