Gen. Rice
General Edward A. Rice Jr., (front right) commander of the Air Education and Training Command, participates in the 5-kilometer Run for Respect Friday at Maxwell Air Force Base with and more than 200 Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Donna Burnett)
Maxwell stands up, runs for respect

by Tech. Sgt. Sarah Loicano
Air University Public Affairs

7/2/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Team Maxwell and Air Education and Training Command leadership culminated the installation's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response stand-down week with a 5K run for respect June 28.

"We are focusing on protecting and respecting our fellow Airmen," said Col. Trent Edwards, 42d Wing Commander. "This run culminates our focus this week but doesn't prevent us from thinking about and acting to prevent sexual assault."

The base conducted a mandatory SAPR stand-down June 24-27 for all service members and civilians in response to an order from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel that all military services set aside time to inform its members of their role in eliminating sexual assaults, as well as taking steps to create a zero tolerance culture.

Addressing Maxwell members before the run, Gen. Edward A. Rice, Jr., commander AETC, stressed the importance of creating awareness about the depth of sexual assault problems within the Air Force and each individual's responsibility toward prevention.

"Each one of us has an opportunity and a duty to stamp this scourge of sexual assault out of our Air Force. The most effective and simplest way to do this is to have respect for our fellow Airmen, to demand it of each other and of ourselves," Rice said.

"One sexual assault is one too many. We can't change the past; we can only change the future and we can start right now," he said.

For some runners, the briefings and information they learned about sexual assaults within the Air Force this week emphasized the importance awareness and education plays in prevention.

"We are the focal point for accepting new Airmen into our Air Force; we are the root source of not only Airmen but education for the entire Air Force, so it's important that sexual assault awareness begins here," said Maj. Damon Wille, headquarters Air Force ROTC.

The stand-down consisted of base-wide briefings from the installation Sexual Assault Response Coordinator regarding sexual assault reporting procedures, including unrestricted and restricted reporting and defining what constitutes sexual assault. Work centers also engaged in discussions on sexual assault awareness, issues currently affecting the Air Force, and ways to eliminate sexual assault cases in the military.

Recently, the Air Force has begun to take aggressive steps toward addressing the sexual assault crisis currently existing within the military. In January, the service implemented a Special Victim's Council Program, enabling sexual assault victims to receive legal representation, ensure protection of privacy and prevention of unnecessary disclosure of personal or intimate details, and support victim's rights.

Additionally, the Air Force has changed the way allegations of sexual assault are investigated, transferring responsibility to the Office of Special Investigations. Among these other changes, the Air Force Audit Agency is reviewing Air Force SARC office credentials and qualifications; beginning in October, all Air Force victim advocates and SARC agencies will be required to be credential through the National Organization for Victim Assistance.

Maxwell's SARC office and SARC victim advocate volunteers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They can be contacted by calling 953-4416 or 953-7116.