Letter to Airmen: Zero tolerance for sexual assault

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Roy issued a tri-signature "Letter to Airmen," Nov. 16.

As part of an effort to increase awareness of sexual assault, the Air Force's top three leaders reminded Airmen that individual efforts do have an effect on reducing the incidence of assaults and risk to service members.

The top three Air Force officials state there is no place for sexual assault in the Air Force. When it comes to combating this challenge, every Airman is either part of the solution or part of the problem. Airmen must be united in their commitment to intervene when the potential for harm arises; to act affirmatively when observing tolerance of sexist behavior and attitudes; and to provide victim care. The only way to stop sexual assault is for Airmen to take action -- become personally involved. Recommit yourself to the core values of the Air Force. Be an advocate for professionalism and discipline. Most importantly, if you are aware of sexual assault in your unit, report it.

"I believe that if you take care of your people, they will take care of the mission," said Col. Samuel Mahaney, 452nd Air Mobility Wing commander. "That is why I take reports of sexual assault or abuse very seriously. Such behavior shows a flagrant disregard for the safety and dignity of another human being. It is my policy to investigate all allegations and where those allegations are substantiated, I pursue punishment commensurate with the wrongdoing, to include discharge and Uniformed Code of Military Justice action."

Col. Mahaney recognizes not all behavior technically elevates to the level of sexual assault or abuse; however, repeated inappropriate behavior by one person toward another can still result in a hostile work environment. "I will NOT tolerate the behavior of anyone who creates a hostile work environment and will take all necessary steps to create a safe productive environment for our dedicated troops who are trying to get the job done," said Mahaney.

The 452d AMW commander wholeheartedly echoes the CSAF's statement: "The goal for sexual assault in the United States Air Force is zero. If you're a commander or a supervisor and you are not directly and aggressively involved in speaking up about this issue in your unit, then you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

To assist in creating awareness of Sexual Assault in the military, the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office offers a comprehensive listing of DOD laws, regulations and available training at sapr.mil. For more information on the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Program, visit http://www.sapr.mil/.