Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle and Michelle McBride
Photos by: TSgt Phillip Fountain
(AUSTIN, Texas) April 4, 2014 – Maj. Gen. John Nichols, the Texas Adjutant General and Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Milton, Senior Enlisted Advisor Texas Army National Guard, signed a proclamation declaring April Sexual Assault Awareness Month within the Texas Military Forces during a ceremony at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, April 4, 2014.
The ceremony focused on spreading awareness in order to increase prevention of sexual assaults.
“One is too many,” said Amy Allen, the guest speaker for the event and community organizer for Safe Place, a nonprofit organization that works with victims of sexual and domestic violence. “Sexual violence is preventable. It takes everyone to get involved.”
Nichols encouraged service members to take action against sexual assault.
“Sexual assault is worse than bad,” Nichols said. “It has no place in our community, on our Texas Military Forces team.”
Nichols advised service members not to be naïve in thinking that sexual predators aren’t in their midst. He encouraged service members to watch out for themselves as well as their battle buddies and wingmen, and to stop behavior that could lead to sexual assault immediately.
To better support its members, the Texas Military Forces created the Sexual Assault Prevention and Report Program which focuses on education in order to spread awareness.
Lt. Col. James Castleman, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, 136th Airlift Wing, Texas Air National Guard, said that the program provides resources to victims of sexual assault including access to follow on care for both counseling and medical support and assisting commanders in working with victims to ensure they are treated fairly and not discriminated against.
The program is scheduled to host several events this month aimed at spreading awareness amongst the force. Among those is a Sexual Assault Prevention 5K hosted by the 136th at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, April 18, 2014 at 1100.
Another event, Denim Day, is aimed at debunking many of the myths surrounding sexual assaults. It is scheduled for April 23, 2014 on Camp Mabry.
“Today’s ceremony is very important,” Castleman said, “because it shows that the Adjutant General is committing to reducing the number of sexual assaults in the Texas Military Forces as well as increasing awareness of the issues faced by Texas Military Forces members.”