By Spc. Debrah Ledesma
40th Public Affairs Detachment
KUWAIT— In 2005, there were 2,374 reports of sexual assault involving members of the military services. Of these, 169 occurred in Southwest Asia, according to the Department of Defenses Annual Report to Congress on sexual assault in the military.
"That's 169 assaults, blue force on blue force – that's military. That's fratricide," said Maj. Gen. Dennis Hardy, deputy commanding general of Third Army/U.S. Army Central, during a sexual assault awareness event held at the Zone 1 Chapel at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, April 6.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness month and the U.S. military takes the topic very seriously. Third Army is no exception.
The U.S. military promotes a "climate based on duty, honor and respect," said Hardy.
Hardy, like many Soldiers, wants the U.S. military to be "free from fear, free from attack or any other discrimination."
He went on to say that prevention involves awareness from military leaders of what their Soldiers need and what they do.
The leadership influences the tone, atmosphere and cadence of an organization through policy, training and enforcing standards," said Command Sgt. Maj. Willie Lemons, Third Army/U.S. Army Central equal opportunity command sergeant major.
"All commanders have an inherent command responsibility to ensure Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines serving under their purview can live and work in an environment that fosters a climate of human dignity and respect."
Training and education is exactly what Area Support Group-Kuwait had in mind for Camp Arifjan during April.
Displaying booths throughout the month, leaders hope to instill the importance of preventing sexual assault before there are victims to suffer the repercussions.
"Whenever a crime is committed there is always a victim, to include families, spouses, children and friends. All these individuals are left with the residual affects of sexual assault," said Lemons.
If victims know that they are safe when reporting a crime, they are more likely to file a complaint and more likely to receive help and a perpetrator is more likely to be taken out of the ranks of honorable servicemembers, making everyone safer.
"No one can solely protect themselves against sexual assault," said Lemons. "To impact the elimination of sexual assault, it takes the cooperative and concerted efforts of command emphasis, leader involvement and individual responsibility."