142nd Wing observes Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Alexander Frank
  • 142nd Wing/Public Affairs

Every April marks the observance of Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month (SAAPM) across the Department of Defense. The month-long information campaign aims to raise awareness about sexual assault in the military and educate service members on available resources and reporting procedures.

Within our local community, the 142nd Wing Sexual Assault Prevention & Response (SAPR) office works to educate service members about sexual assault and highlight available resources to victims year-round. Paul Kemper, 142nd Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), sees SAAPM as an important time to reflect on the impact of sexual violence and how starting conversations around the topic can work to create a more supportive military community.

“Not only should we acknowledge that sexual assault affects our community, but also, we should try to understand the issues, the impacts on victims, and familiarize the community with the resources available,” said Kemper. “Together as a community, we can work toward eliminating inappropriate behaviors and the prevention of sexual violence.”

This year, the Oregon National Guard is highlighting SAAPM by encouraging guardsmen to wear teal-colored civilian clothing during “Teal Tuesdays” throughout April. The color teal symbolizes sexual assault awareness and prevention and works to convey support, empathy, and hope for survivors of sexual assault.

“Teal Tuesdays…visually represents the Oregon National Guard’s commitment to increasing awareness through prevention education, victim-centered support, intimidation-free reporting, thorough investigations, and accountability for those who commit sexual crimes,” said Kemper

U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Kosderka, 142nd Wing commander, sees the observance of SAAPM as a unique opportunity for wing members to stand up for the values they’ve sworn to uphold.

"As defenders of both the skies and the values we uphold, we recognize that fostering a culture of respect and dignity is paramount,” said Kosderka. “In observing SAAPM, we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring every member of our wing feels safe, valued, and empowered."

This year's SAAPM theme, 'Forging Forward with Change', as emphasized by the National Guard Bureau, underscores the pivotal role each service member plays in preventing and reporting sexual assault.

“It takes one person to stand up and intervene in something that they know is wrong to spark a change,” said Taylor Smead, 142nd Wing Victim Advocate. “Throughout the year, service members can help raise awareness by actively participating in annual SAPR training and understanding that everyone has a role to play in preventing sexual assault.”

SAAPM itself won’t solve sexual assault in the military. However, it does offer an opportunity to discuss the long-lasting impacts of sexual violence, and how all service members can play a role in preventing and reporting sexual assault. Kemper hopes that the topics discussed during SAAPM help 142nd Wing Airmen have more informed conversations about sexual assault and the part they play in creating an inclusive military community.

“We hope that throughout this month [during] the events offered, people will become more aware of the SAPR program, the importance of this program, and what services we offer,” said Kemper. “Throughout this month, we hope this will spark conversations around sexual assault awareness and prevention and further the culture of change.”

Service members in need of SAPR services can contact the DoD Safe Helpline 24/7 at 877-995-5247.

Any 142nd Wing Airmen in need of SAPR resources can contact the 142nd Wing SAPR helpline at (971) 806-4054, or the 142nd Wing victim advocate at (971) 940-6122.