As part of National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM), the Department of Defense (DOD) is launching its STEP FORWARD campaign. This year’s theme, “STEP FORWARD. To prevent. Report. Advocate,” is a call to action for all members of the Department to do their part to prevent sexual assault and encourage greater help-seeking.
Commemorated each April by the civilian and military communities, DOD observes Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month to highlight the connection between military readiness and a healthy unit climate. More than a decade of research shows that sexual assault occurs less often in units where members support and respect each other. The data further shows that standing up for someone who is being hazed, bullied, harassed, or abused sends a strong message that helps improve climates.
“We are all very different people coming together in service to our country. The STEP FORWARD campaign recognizes that each of us in the military community can take steps to make our units safer,” said Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Acting Director Dr. Nate Galbreath . “Prevention begins with recognizing that our daily interactions, when respectful, can snowball into making the military a great place to work and live.”
Elizabeth Foster, Executive Director of the Office of Force Resilience, said, “We are focused on change that benefits our personnel and the effectiveness of our military. The destructive impact of sexual assault is felt at the individual level and beyond, and threatens the readiness of our troops. I ask every member of our DOD community to support the STEP FORWARD campaign. Make it your business to encourage actions that help prevent sexual assault, increase reporting, and advocate for a safer and respectful workplace. Our mission demands it.
If you or someone you know in the DoD community has been the victim of sexual assault, please consider contacting the DoD Safe Hotline for one-on-one, anonymous, 24/7 support at 877- 995-5247 or SafeHelpline.org/live-chat.