RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
You never thought you could feel so powerless…so numb. There’s a moment after the shock wears off where you think to yourself; did that really just happen to me? Why would someone do this? Someone you know, someone you thought you could trust.
You try to make up excuses of why it can’t be real and how you embellished the story because you don’t want to remember every detail of what happened. You don’t want to picture it in your head when you go to work or go out with your friends. You try so hard to forget about it, yet, everything you see throughout the day reminds you of that moment. The moment you felt powerless. The moment you felt numb.
If you had these thoughts and were sexual assaulted while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces more than 15 years ago, having access to a base Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program was not an option. There wasn’t anyone to facilitate your healing process or guide you in the right direction after a traumatic experience.
“It is important to know you have a dedicated group of people who are there to help you through potentially the worst moment of your life,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jazmine Hood, 435th Air Expeditionary Wing sexual assault prevention coordinator.
The Department of Defense created the SAPR office in 2005. The program offers a team of certified and trained personnel who are available to assist and promote military readiness by eliminating sexual assault and ensuring excellence in victim advocacy and prevention efforts.
“The program directs mandatory training for all DoD members to help combat and understand sexual violence and its prevalence in our military,” said Hood. “I think this program has allowed more people to come forward knowing they will be believed.”
According to the DoD statistical data on sexual assault from fiscal year 2019, the rate of reporting in each service branch has only increased since 2010.
Hood said that watching the sexual assault report rate increase every year demonstrates the importance of a SAPR program.
“Our report numbers have gone up in the DoD; which, one could look at that as there is more sexual assault, when really in my opinion, it means our program is working,” said Hood. “There is more awareness about what sexual assault and consent is; therefore, having this program allows people to come forward safely and get the support they need.”
Master Sgt. Natalie Simmons, 768th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron disbursing agent and volunteer for the SAPR program since 2016, said the program has made people more aware of what sexual assault looks like and has created a change in social norms that sexual assault will not be tolerated.
“Our service members are the most important assets the military has,” said Simmons. “If we do not have an environment where everyone feels safe and able to focus, we are affecting our military mission.”
The 435th AEW SAPR office can be reached at DSN 314-478-7832 or contact the 24/7 hotline number at +49-152-5443-5007.