Leadership dedicated to eliminating sexual assault
A Marine learns more about what the DoD Safe Helpline offers DoD personnel. April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month across the DoD. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Phillips)
BETHESDA, Md. — Senior leaders from various commands at Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB) came together recently and signed a proclamation in support of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
“We have an opportunity and a responsibility in the military to show our civilian counterparts how we can attack this problem and make a difference,” said Navy Rear Adm. David Lane, director, National Capital Region Medical Directorate.
Commanding Officer Navy Capt. Marvin L. Jones said he would like all cases of sexual assault eliminated.
“We have some of the sharpest people on this installation working on this program,” said Jones, pointing out Priscilla DePinto, NSAB sexual assault response coordinator (SARC), and employees in the installation’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPR) and Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) programs. “Our goal, my goal, is to put them out of business … I’d rather see us eradicate sexual assault amongst our ranks and have them doing something else.”
As the commander of the Navy medical troops at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) and Ft. Belvoir and court martial convening authority, Lane said he was sad to report eight cases of sexual assault in the past year.
“So that’s in our community, amongst colleagues and associates and friends,” Lane said. “The power of attacking this and eliminating it – as Capt. Jones said – it really rests among all of us. I urge all of you to rededicate yourselves to putting our SAPR and SHARP personnel out of business. This is just a scourge on our society and on our military.”
Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Shannon Sensenig, SAPR victim advocate, read the proclamation at the ceremony.
“There’s compelling evidence that we can be successful in reducing sexual harassment and sexual assault at Naval Support Activity Bethesda through prevention, education, increased awareness, bystander intervention and holding perpetrators who commit acts of sexual assault or sexual harassment responsible for their actions,” Sensenig read.
Sensenig said there will be booths at various locations on base during the month to inform people of the available resources to help sexual assault victims and their families.
“We’re here to support all victims of sexual assault, whether something recent or happened in the past,” Sensenig said. “We can have service members, family members, come to us at any time and make those reports confidentially and we can provide them the support and services that are available.”
He said the victim advocates are available to help sexual assault victims by accompanying them to medical appointments or emergency room, set up behavioral health appointments with counseling or group therapy sessions for survivors of sexual assault.
Service members can report a sexual assault as either unrestricted or restricted. An unrestricted report notifies the command and law enforcement, and triggers health care and advocacy services for the victim. A restricted report remains confidential and lets a person access health care and advocacy services without notifying the command or law enforcement.
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