SAPR Source

Director's Message

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow, U.S. Army, Director, DoD SAPRO

Major General Jeffrey J. Snow

On December 1, the Department delivered a report to the President that details the progress we’ve made in our campaign against sexual assault. In addition to the comprehensive report by the Department of Defense, each of the Military Departments and the National Guard Bureau contributed a supporting report, further detailing their progress.

The report reviews, by line of effort, significant improvements made in the sexual assault prevention and response program, criminal investigations, and the military justice system over the past three years. The Department developed 12 metrics to assist with describing our system and illustrating progress along key points and found evidence of progress in 10 of them. The report also details progress in many additional areas that demonstrate our focus on prevention and our uncompromising commitment to victim assistance. These improvements are solid, substantive changes to how our program is applied across the force.

Our leading indicators about the problem of sexual assault show continued progress. Our survey results indicate there were about 7,000 fewer sexual assaults in 2014 than in 2012 while reports of sexual assault made to DoD authorities increased 50 percent in FY13 and 8 percent in FY14. Given this decrease in prevalence and increase in reporting, we estimate that we heard from one in four victims, up from one in 10 in 2012.

We are not calling this a success and recognize that future progress will be defined by continued decreases in the prevalence of sexual assault and increases in reporting. As a Department, we are continuing to make strides in eradicating this crime and continue to introduce new initiatives to do so.

Earlier this year, the Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel (RSP) released its full report, including 132 recommendations on military justice and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) in the Department of Defense. If approved, some recommendations would constitute minor adjustments to existing programs, while other recommendations represent “fundamentally different approaches to current programs and processes,” as stated in the report.

In May, I spoke with the panel about findings of the DoD Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military and the prevention initiatives and response systems that have represented a fundamental shift and dramatic improvement in recent years and changes made to support victims throughout the military justice process.

One of the more prominent areas the panel investigated was the role of commander in the military justice system. The panel did “not support a conclusion that removing authority to convene courts-martial from senior commanders will improve the quality of investigations and prosecutions or increase the conviction rate in these cases.” The RSP also found no evidence that removing commanders from their role in the justice system would improve victim reporting.

The panel also lauded the work of the still relatively new Special Victims Counsel (SVC) and recommended Congress appropriate sufficient funds and personnel authorizations to the Department to sustain a robust program.

We are making progress with the promising prevention initiatives and response systems, but we must be mindful of how far we still need to go. In December, the Secretary of Defense approved, or approved in part, the implementation of the majority of the RSP recommendations. We will work diligently to implement these recommendations as we know our work is never done until this crime is eliminated from within the ranks. We will continue to implement policies that move the Department in the right direction.

Jeffrey J. Snow
MG, U.S. Army
Director
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office

For more information:


Official Directives & Reports

SAIRO DTM Provides Accountability to Sexual Assault Victims

Visibility, transparency, and system accountability are set to be heightened through the Sexual Assault Incident Response Oversight (SAIRO) Report, a new report mandated to be completed within eight days of an unrestricted report via a DD Form 2910 or an initiation of an independent investigation of sexual assault by a Military Criminal Investigative Organization (MCIO). With the publication of Directive-Type Memorandum 14-007 [hereinafter SAIRO DTM], the SAIRO Report is now required throughout the Department of Defense for any unrestricted report of sexual assault involving a Service member as a victim or an alleged suspect. A SAIRO Report is not required for restricted (confidential) reports.

The SAIRO Report is prepared by the assigned immediate commander with input from the appropriate Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and MCIO, and submitted to the required O-6, general, or flag officer as outlined in the SAIRO DTM. This oversight creates visibility and transparency of the response to victims for senior leaders and system accountability. The SAIRO report does not replace Service requirements for a serious incident report or operational reporting.

The Department continually seeks to improve DoD’s response to victims and the SAIRO Report is another pathway to ensuring that victims receive the resources and support they deserve. The SAIRO Report assures that victims are offered healthcare, victim advocacy, timely investigation, safety assessments, notice of expedited transfers and military protective orders, and the legal services of a Special Victim’s Counsel/Victim’s Legal Counsel. The report elevates oversight of response system elements, yet maintains victim privacy by not providing personally identifiable information, photographs of the victim, or any other information that could reasonably lead to the identification to the victim.

The SAIRO Report will be vital to increasing visibility and transparency to senior leaders and improving system accountability. It also is an important step in ensuring victims are provided with the care and support they deserve.

For more information:


In Case You Missed It...

Prevention Webinar presents DoD Sexual Assault Prevention Model

In its August webinar, the SAPRO Prevention Team hosted a discussion on the 2014-2016 DoD Sexual Assault Prevention Strategy. Participants were offered an overview of the strategy, background on the strategy’s underlying concepts and steps being taken to evaluate effectiveness.

Dr. Suzanne Holroyd, SAPRO Prevention Team Lead, kicked off the session with a review of the process and research that went into the strategy. In developing the prevention strategy, SAPRO consulted with experts from well-known universities and colleges, civilian organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and a range of military organizations to broaden the reach of examination and study promising practices in sexual assault prevention.

The SAPR Prevention Webinar Series is held quarterly for SARCs and SAPR VAs as an optional course applicable for one hour toward the required 32-hours of D-SAACP continuing education training for certification renewal.

To explain the CDC’s approach to violence prevention, Dr. Andra Teten Tharp (CDC) participated to explain the model behind the Prevention Strategy. The prevention model is based on a social-ecological model utilized by the CDC, which seeks to encourage work at every level of social interaction to prevent sexual assault. Dr. Tharp discussed “A Public Health Approach to Prevention: Using the Social-Ecological Model”, which includes developing a comprehensive approach, linking prevention across social interaction sectors, i.e. individual, relationship, community, and society. The model is built around the concept that individuals are influenced by a range of sources - peers, community, and society - and in order to be effective, a prevention strategy needs to be integrated across all these levels.

Dr. Holroyd discussed DoD’s adaptation to this model. Since leaders are the “center of gravity” in sexual assault prevention and response efforts, they were included in the DoD’s approach.

Prevention Spheres of InfluenceDr. Nate Galbreath, senior executive advisor for DoD SAPRO, also presented insights on how the Department is tackling the critical evaluation part of the prevention effort. He noted the 50 percent rise in reports of sexual assault in FY13 and spoke about new initiatives and policies that may have contributed to the willingness of victims to come forward. “With the senior leader focus, we’re seeing a lot more people come in the door to report and it makes it possible to care for victims and hold offenders appropriately accountable,” Galbreath said.

The Prevention Team has hosted four webinars with nearly 900 attendees and are showing growth through their messaging and effectiveness among SARCs and SAPR VAs. One example of this is when Raymond J. Thorp, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Specialist at Misawa Air Base in Japan, showed the recorded webinar at a SAPR event they hosted and invited all SAPR VAs, other agency members, and unit leaders as a training and teaching tool. The recorded versions of the webinars are available globally 365/24/7 to civilian or military members using a valid common access card (CAC) ensuring widest dissemination. To view the August webinar, please click this link.

First-Ever Sexual Assault Prevention Innovation Award Recipients Announced

In October 2014, the Department of Defense announced the winners of the first Sexual Assault Prevention Innovation Awards. The purpose of the awards was to recognize military and civilian contributors who influence prevention efforts and tactics to decrease sexual assault in the military in alignment with the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention Strategy.

The new award program was launched as part of the of the 2014-2016 Sexual Assault Prevention Strategy, a new roadmap for preventing military sexual assault that reflects a wide range of integrated program elements focused on influencing behavior to reduce the crime of sexual assault. The honorees were recognized for their innovative work to encourage units to develop effective prevention programs and tactics using the updated prevention strategy that positively impact SAPR programs on installations, in deployed environments, and in reserve components.

“The 2014 Prevention Innovation awardees deserve recognition for the impact they have made in their military environment by making a personal commitment to eliminate sexual assault,” said MG Jeffrey J. Snow, director of the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. “Earlier this year,” Snow said, “Secretary Hagel provided a road map for the delivery of consistent and effective prevention strategies. These SAPR personnel are leading the way with innovative ways to incorporate core values and shape the environment in which service members live and work.”

Six awards were presented to individuals or groups from each of the following: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force Active and Reserve, National Guard Bureau, and the Coast Guard. This year’s honorees included:

  • Chief Warrant Officer Four Debra Blankenbaker, U.S. Army - CW4 Blankenbaker developed bystander intervention training tailored for military, civilians, and family members, created American Forces Networks advertisements, and wrote articles in a family newsletter for talking to children on the topic of consent.
  • Marine Corps Combat Service Support (MCCS) Schools - Members of the MCCS Schools embedded Uniformed Victim Advocates into the entry-level student population, their classrooms, and barracks to allow them to establish rapport with students and foster a climate of trust and confidence where incidents are more likely to be reported. MCCS also established a campaign entitled “Marines Don’t Do Permanent Things with Temporary People,” a separate program designed to reinforce sexual assault training.
  • Ms. Tina Carter, U.S. Navy - Ms. Carter demonstrated exceptional leadership and initiative in developing and directing an interactive stage production entitled “I Didn’t Know,” thereby enhancing the Navy’s required SAPR training. This entertaining and informative production featured Uniformed Victim Advocates and staff from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
  • Major Daniel Giannavola and First Lieutenant Poonsak Kajonpong, U.S. Air Force - Maj Giannavola and 1st Lt Kajonpong executed a campaign which garnered volunteers of all ranks to perform skits as a Sexual Assault Theater Group, developed sexual assault education principles into mock trials, and orchestrated a “Silent Walk” focusing on reflection and respect for 400 base survivors.
  • California Military Department Sexual Assault Review Board, National Guard Bureau - NGB collaborated with state and local officials for prevention, awareness, and victim response efforts, including LiveScan, a coordinated effort of continual monitoring of personnel in positions of trust.
  • United States Coast Guard Sexual Assault Prevention Council (SAPC) - Established to rapidly implement and operationalize near-term strategies to position the Coast Guard to drive sexual assault from the ranks, setting the foundation for improvements to culture, prevention, response, and accountability within the Service. SAPC recognizes a “culture of respect” as the best preventative measure and increased the Coast Guard’s collective understanding of the current climate and provided tools to drive positive cultural change.

The award-winning approaches will be shared with the entire DoD community so all Service members can benefit from the creative approaches these groups and individuals took toward sexual assault prevention efforts.

Safe HelpRoom - Creating a community of survivors

Safe Helpline Web BannerSafe HelpRoom is a group chat service that allows survivors in the military to support one another in a safe online environment. This service moves beyond crisis intervention to support survivors who are ready to take the next step and engage with others impacted by this crime.

“The goal of Safe HelpRoom is to create a community of survivors, regardless of time zone or distance, while maintaining Safe Helpline’s commitment to anonymity and confidentiality,” says Katherine Fliflet, Vice President of Communications for The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).

DoD Safe Helpline is a confidential crisis support and information resource for victims of sexual assault operated through a contract with RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. Safe HelpRoom serves as an example of how the DoD and RAINN continually strive to provide access to resources for victims of sexual assault in an anonymous and confidential way.

Safe HelpRoom is built on the same secure technology that supports DoD’s 24/7 call line, Safe Helpline. In order to ensure that survivors can use the service anonymously, Safe HelpRoom has many safeguards in place: users’ IP addresses are never captured, transcripts are not saved, and no personal information is shared with SAPRO or anyone at DoD.

Each session is moderated by a trained professional, who facilitates the conversation and provides referrals, while a staff reviewer screens all posts to make sure that no personally-identifiable information is shared. Together, these precautions help keep survivors safe while still allowing them to engage with and support each other.

Safe HelpRoom has received tremendously positive feedback from survivors who have used the service. Service members at different points in their recovery process say they have benefited from hearing how others have navigated challenges such as thinking through the reporting options, talking to loved ones, and handling military life.

To learn more about Safe HelpRoom or to join the conversation, please visit SafeHelproom.org.

Safe Helpline can be reached by calling 877-995-5247 and more information can be found at safehelpline.org.

Department of Defense (DoD) Safe Helpline provides confidential crisis support and information for members of the DoD community affected by sexual assault. You can get the help you deserve - while remaining anonymous. Safe Helpline services are provided by the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) and are operated through a contract by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

Victim Protections for Involuntary Discharges

Screening for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other conditions that capture a patient's full medical picture is not only a patient right - it’s good medical practice.

Updated Department of Defense policy prevents Service members from administrative separation for a personality disorder without a complete medical review to rule out any underlying medical or mental health diagnosis (such as traumatic brain injury, PTSD, or major depressive disorder) that would better account for the behaviors being cited as the rationale for discharge. The Department updated its administrative separation instruction for all Service members to expand oversight and increase protections when personality or adjustment disorders are being considered as grounds for discharge.

Additional rigor has been added to the personality disorder separation policy to ensure appropriate evaluations and examinations are conducted, and the proper level of endorsement is given prior to recommending administrative separation for a Service member. Victims of sexual assault have the right to protections to change misdiagnoses from independent arbiters that would result in an involuntary discharge and preclude them from post-service disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Another newly instituted policy protection involves separations appeals. Any enlisted Service member or commissioned officer who made an unrestricted report of sexual assault and was subsequently recommended for involuntary separation within one year of final disposition of his or her sexual assault case may request a general or flag officer review of the circumstances of and grounds for the involuntary separation.

Service members will be given the opportunity to have a complete picture presented to a separation authority. Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and SAPR Victim Advocates assisting victims of sexual assault who are being considered for administrative discharge will ensure victims know about these important protections.


New SAPR Tools

DoD SAPRO, DOJ collaborate to build partnerships with civilian organizations

New military and civilian community partnerships are being forged to provide proper support and services to victims of sexual assault thanks to a collaborative effort between DoD SAPRO and the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC).

"Strengthening Military-Civilian Community Partnerships to Respond to Sexual Assault" is an interactive two-day training sponsored by OVC in collaboration with SAPRO and the Military Departments that encourages civilian rape crisis centers to establish partnerships with local military installations. The regional trainings are strategically located to occur on installations where there are a large number of military members in the region and facilitate partnerships between military bases and civilian rape crises centers. SAPRO serves in a curriculum oversight role for the trainings; ensuring course material reflects current policy and SAPR initiatives for attendees.

“The biggest benefit of the training is the focus on the victims themselves,” said Maj Kelly Johnson, USMC, SAPRO military victim assistance advisor. “We want to ensure victims are able to get support where they feel comfortable, which will ultimately reinforce the confidence victims have in the system when reporting crimes.” He also said it’s vital for civilian organizations to more fully understand where the military victim is coming from and it will benefit the victim and the system as a whole.

For more information:


SAPR Spotlight

AMSAAT provides advanced sexual assault training for SARCs and SAPR VAs

The Defense Department teamed up with the Justice Department to produce the Advanced Military Sexual Assault Advocate Training (AMSAAT) program for advocates who provide support to military victims of sexual assault, senior DoD and Justice Department officials said.

DoD collaborated with the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime to develop a curriculum that expands skills learned in initial Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate (SAPR VA) training. AMSAAT is designed to enhance victim advocacy skills across the Services, officials said.

“It was important to collaborate with the Office for Victims of Crime and tailor an advanced training to meet the needs of advocates supporting military victims,” said MG Jeffrey J. Snow, director of DoD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. “The professional advocates in the Defense Department -- both military and civilian -- provide critical support to victims of this crime and are central to building victim confidence. We are able to combine the Justice Department’s expertise in learning development with DoD’s victim-centered approach to training and policy.”

The advanced training is part of DoD’s ongoing efforts to educate response professionals and add to the quality of support sexual assault victims receive. The 20-hour online course provides sexual assault advocacy skills training through role-playing scenarios that require course participation and interactivity, building on the skills learned during initial certification. This training also counts toward continuing education requirements for biennial certification through the Department’s Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program (D-SAACP).

Additionally, recent policy changes at the Defense Department are designed to ensure that survivors of sexual assault have access to a trained and professional system of support. DoD created a special victims counsel program to provide free legal consultation and representation to victims of sexual assault throughout the justice process.

Another initiative supports a special victim capability for the investigators and legal personnel who respond to allegations of sexual assault. Additionally, all SARCs and SAPR VAs are certified through D-SAACP, a certification program established with the National Organization for Victim Assistance.

To register for the Advanced Military Sexual Assault Advocate Training, certified Department of Defense SARCs and SAPR VAs should contact the Justice Department’s OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center at amsaat@ovcttac.org. Registrants should include their D-SAACP ID number in the body of the email when registering.


If there's information you'd like to see in this newsletter, please contact us at whs.mc-alex.wso.mbx.SAPRO@mail.mil.

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Winter 2014

Director's Message
Official Directives & Reports
In Case You Missed It...
New SAPR Tools
SAPR Spotlight
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Email the editor: whs.mc-alex.wso.mbx.SAPRO@mail.mil