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Sexual assault report card, details reflect positive changes

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The Department of Defense released the second-annual report on the Sexual Assault Response Program March 16. The report identified that recent procedural changes have allowed more victims to come forward.

Air Force Special Operations Command ranked second to last in sexual assaults reported throughout the nine Air Force major commands, with only three alleged assaults reported since June.

“The word is getting out,” said Clara Miller, 16th Special Operations Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. “Awareness enables empowerment, so the victims can make a more informed decision.”

According to the DoD report, 2,374 sexual assaults were reported. Out of those reported, 2,047 were unrestricted reports and 435 were restricted reports, with 327 restricted reports remaining.

Restricted reporting allows a victim to confidentially receive medical treatment and support without triggering a criminal investigation. This gives the victim more control over their personal information, while seeking guidance on whether or not to participate in an investigation.

Unrestricted reporting follows procedures that were already in place. The victim will receive medical attention and counseling while the command is notified and an investigation is generated.

Out of the 435 restricted reports, 108 people amended their reports to unrestricted status after they considered available benefits and limitations.

All military services have put education and training programs into action de-signed to develop confidentiality among the victims reporting the assault. 

“We’ve upped the degree of confidence,” said Ms. Miller. “This shows they’re (the victims) comfortable enough with the system to change the reporting option.”

There are now more than 1,000 DoD-trained coordinators and victim advocates and more than a million service members who have been trained in sexual assault awareness. The program has been incorporated in most professional DoD military education and initial-entry training classes.

The Air Force made awareness training mandatory, and according to the report 356,305 Airmen had been trained as of Dec. 31, 2005. 

“The report is significant,” said Ms. Miller. “It shows we’re following through.”