CHARLESTON, W.Va. –
As Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) begins, the West Virginia National Guard is moving into April with a strong and growing joint Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program lead by experienced staff and backed by myself and all the leaders in this organization.
Our theme for 2023 is “Prevention Starts with Us, One Guard Taking Action to Protect Our People”. We must have the moral courage to take a stand against those who attempt to harm, degrade, harass, or assault members of our Guard Family. It can be easy to say, but I’m asking each of you – Soldiers, Airmen, civilians, family members and loved ones – to take to heart that prevention starts with each one of us. We have the responsibility to act, do what is right and to defend those who need our assistance.
We are dedicated to assisting service members who have been sexually assaulted – we know we cannot make them whole again, but we will do everything in our power to assist them through the healing process. The National Guard Bureau recently recognized the WVNG for having the only known social worker in the entire National Guard who can assist services members who have been sexually assaulted.
We now also offer services to Service Members who file a sexual harassment claim which can include, but are not limited to, military protective orders, chaplain services, behavioral health services, and a confidential professional to listen and explain reporting options.
We continue to expand our SAPR team across the Army and Air Wings, to include full time Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC’s) and Victim Advocates (VAs) at brigade levels and full time VAs at the Wing levels. This allows the WVNG to have a larger dedicated team to assist more Soldiers and Airmen.
Lastly, the WVNG has a “No Wrong Door” initiative. This mandates that a victim of sexual harassment or assault will not be turned away from a helping resource. If that Service Member goes to a chaplain or behavioral health, those providers will then do a warm hand-off to a SARC or Equal Opportunity personnel should the Service Member request their assistance, ensuring they are not alone.
The Dept. of Defense theme for SAAPM this year is: Intervene. We are a team: There is US in TrUST. Can they Trust in You? During SAAPM will you take the pledge to be there to intervene when needed and believe survivors?
I have. Please join me.
William E. Crane
Major General, WVNG
The Adjutant General