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Keying in on the front against sexual assault

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Tech. Sgt. Jeff Andrejcik)

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Tech. Sgt. Jeff Andrejcik)

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Every year in April, a united campaign against sexual assault takes center stage to spread awareness and cultivate a society of prevention.

This month, several Air Force bases will hold activities and events that put the spotlight on how airmen can stay engaged and continue to fight this issue.

“April is where a variety of things are done to bring sexual assault awareness to the forefront of people’s minds,” said Capt. John Prince, 8th Fighter Wing sexual assault and response coordinator. “However, sexual assault prevention and response should be a yearlong mindset. It should be in daily interactions and conversations in the workplace.”

Kunsan plans to hold various events such as a 5K awareness run, Armed Forces Network radiocasts, bowling and movie nights, all dedicated toward sexual assault prevention. These events help eliminate sexual assault, but the mindset of prevention for every member begins the day they enter basic training.

From the beginning of an Airman’s career, they are charged with internalizing an attitude that does not accept this behavior. At every base, sexual assault prevention specialists play a critical role in maintaining the continuity of that mindset and creating a culture for Airmen to push back against this issue.

“Sexual assault doesn’t just affect one person it affects all of us,” said Shelia Bacon, 8th Fighter Wing
specialist for the primary prevention of violence. “It’s a crime, and we need to continue communicating this early with Airmen while they are in basic training and technical school to help with prevention.”

Everyone has a role in prevention, and those who are part of the Air Force family are expected to uphold what it means being in uniform.

“I think Airmen and civilian members all have a responsibility to prevent and act,” said Prince. “We all should live up to the Air Force core values every day and part of that is doing your part to eliminate sexual assault.”

The Department of Defense, along with much of the United States, puts a strong focus on creating sexual assault awareness in April, but— as Prince stated— sexual assault prevention is a mindset that should be carried throughout the year.

Ensuring airmen and civilians have a place where they can work and live free from assault or harassment is what the Air Force strives for.

“The sexual assault prevention program is not perfect; nothing’s perfect. However, it is constantly getting better,” said Prince. “Our leaders do listen; they really do care and are always looking for ways to make our programs more effective because one sexual assault is one too many.”

Sexual assault negatively affects individuals, work centers and overall mission effectiveness. It has no place in the Air Force and only through a collective effort is it kept out of the ranks.

“We’re coming together as representatives of different sexual assault prevention programs to support the same mission, which is about prevention and taking care of our Airmen, civilians and their families,” said Bacon. “I think us coming together as an organization to attack sexual assault and domestic violence shows we’re really going in the right direction.”

Kunsan Airmen wanting more information on how to get involved as a sexual assault prevention and response representative can contact Capt. John Prince or Shelia Bacon at DSN 782-7252 or 782-4880, respectively.