BAFB: Resources available for victims of sexual assault in military
BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) -
Last month, the Pentagon released a report that estimated up to 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted in 2012. That doesn't even include the thousands of victims who are still unwilling to come forward.
"The best option for me was to try and endure it, suck it up and try and make it until I could get transferred somewhere else. Only to have it happen over and over again, like a recurring nightmare" says Jennifer Norris, who spoke out nationally about the military sexual assault crisis.
That's why Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently ordered the military to re certify all 25,000 people involved in programs designed to prevent and respond to sexual assault.
It was an acknowledgement that assaults have escalated beyond the Pentagon's control.
Barksdale, about what is being done, locally, to protect those who are protecting us.
There are measures in place, nationally and locally for prevention, including at Barksdale Air Force Base. "Agencies are there to ensure that they are kept safe. So even though it may happen or it could happen, letting them know that there are individuals in place to address it," explains BAFB Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Vicki Shepherd.
SARCs are placed everywhere we have a man or woman in uniform so people like Jennifer Norris can get help. "Sometimes they suffer in silence. When that happens, it is like a slow moving eating cancer and it doesn't stop at the individual, it starts to affect them at all aspects of their lives" Shepherd says. Shepherd says they are there 24-7, whether it is taking someone to the hospital, or just holding their hand.
Shepherd says they also have sexual assault training that every single person in the military has to pass. "We are the best deterrent. My goal is zero tolerance" she says. Even with all that training, the number of sexual assault cases spiked 35% nationally in 2012. Shepherd says one reason for that bigger number, 26,000 cases, could be because more people are coming forward now to use those resources the SARC offers. Barksdale will not release the number of sexual assaults that happened at the base locally. Legal punishment for the person responsible for the assault is done on a case-by-case basis.