Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda MD –
Leaders of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), Troop Command and Navy Medicine Readiness & Training Command (NMRTC) at WRNMMC, signed a proclamation March 31 observing April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
“WRNMMC proudly and compassionately cares for the victims of sexual assault as we work together to raise awareness, correct attitudes, take action, and hold accountable the perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault in our formation and our community,” said Army Col. (Dr.) Andrew Barr, WRNMMC director.
Barr added that the post-World War II era in America “challenged norms regarding gender roles in society, and opened discussions about the realities of sexual assault.” Awareness, advocacy and support of the victims of sexual harassment and assault have also gained much deserved and greater notice over the decades, he continued.
“In 1971, the nation’s first rape crisis center opened in San Francisco,” Barr said. “By 1975, over 400 centers operated nationwide to assist victims of sexual assault.”
“In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act into law, declaring sexual and domestic violence as legal issues rather than personal matters,” the WRNMMC director furthered.
“In the year 2000, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center was created; Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month was established in 2001; and President Barack Obama formally recognized our observation of this critical issue in 2009 to increase awareness of sexual violence across our ranks and our nation,” Barr stated.
“Together, it is our responsibility to combat sexual assault against women and men through awareness, prevention, engagement, action and care to support the victims of sexual violence, and hold their assailants accountable,” he concluded.
Navy Hospitalman Gabrielle Yarbrough read WRNMMC’s proclamation for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. The proclamation stated the observance “is intended to draw attention to the fact that sexual violence remains an intolerable violent crime which impacts mission readiness [of] military members, civilian counterparts, and assigned commands. Sexual assault is an affront to the core values that [military members and civil servants] support and defend.
“We must work together throughout the year to educate our community about what can be done to prevent sexual assault, and support victims and survivors to ensure they are provided the help needed to survive sexual violence,” the proclamation states. It also encourages everyone “to speak out and intervene when witnessing acts of sexual harassment or sexual assault.”
The proclamation furthers that “with leadership, dedication and encouragement, there is compelling evidence we can successfully reduce sexual harassment and sexual assault…through risk reduction, primary prevention education, increased awareness, active intervention, and holding perpetrators who commit acts of sexual assault or sexual harassment responsible for their actions.”
Navy Command Master Chief Randy Swanson, WRNMMC’s senior enlisted leader, said, “It’s important to continuously fight to protect the women and men in the military, their civilian counterparts, friends and families.“
In addition to Barr and Swanson, others who signed the proclamation included Navy Capt. Gerard Woelkers, NMRTC commanding officer; Army Lt. Col. David Maldonado-Lopez, executive officer for Troop Command, WRNMMC; and Command Sgt. Maj. Chanda McGinnis, CSM of Troop Command, WRNMMC.
The 24-hours/7 Days contact for a victim advocate is at (301) 442-8225. The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) can be reach at (301) 442-2053, and the SAFE Helpline number is 1-877-995-5247.