Straight Talk: Sexual assault prevention and response

  • Published
  • By Col. Lester A. Weilacher
  • 66th Air Base Group commander
Recent events in our Air Force show there are still gaps between the intent of the Defense Department's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program and its full implementation throughout all levels of command. As a commander, I am charged to help close these gaps by using my authorities, options and resources. This column is just one of those resources and if you are reading this, I need your help combating sexual assault.

The essence of the problem posed by sexual assault is well documented in a recent "32-star" letter of Strategic Direction to the Joint Force on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.

"Sexual assault crimes strike at the health, welfare and dignity of our Servicemembers and undermine the readiness of our Force," the letter states. "As military professionals, we must fully understand the destructive nature of these acts, lead our focused efforts to prevent them, and promote positive command climates and environments that reinforce mutual respect, trust and confidence. Sexual assault among Servicemembers is a problem we face together, one that can only be solved together. In doing so, we will Keep Faith with Our Military Family--they should expect nothing less, and Renew Our Commitment to the Profession of Arms--we should demand nothing less."

To that end, leaders at all levels of Hanscom organizations must ensure every person in his or her organization understands the Department of Defense policy on sexual assault--zero tolerance. They must also take an active role to create an environment where Airmen feel safe.

As a resource available to all of us, Hanscom's SAPR Program exists to help eliminate incidents of sexual assault through awareness and prevention training, education, victim advocacy, response, reporting and accountability. However, the existence of this program does not relieve all of us from acting individually to protect and care for one another.

According to Andrea McKie, Hanscom's Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), "In order for us to make an impact, we must take this personally."

I want you to look out for your wingman. Don't assume everything will be okay; get personally involved and make sure it is.

For more information, you can reach our SARC 24/7 at 781-225-7272 or go to the DoD's SAPR website at

Thank you for looking out for each other and our Air Force.