WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 21, 2010) -- "Sexual assault devastates the mission," said the NCO who set up the "I. A.M. Strong" campaign at Joint Base Balad in Iraq, and received the Federal Service Award last month for efforts aimed toward stopping the crime.

Master Sgt. Verlean K. Brown received the award from U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. April 16 at the Department of Justice.

Brown said she didn't realize how many people were being sexually assaulted in a combat zone, and she didn't realize what a difference a program would make. As the senior deployed sexual assault response coordinator on Joint Base Balad, she quickly came to feel a change of mindset was necessary for young Soldiers and leaders.

In the nine months she was deployed, Brown counseled and assisted more than 100 servicemembers. She single-handedly supervised and trained 200 victim advocates and conducted more than 40 education and training classes for Soldiers, airmen and civilians.

"We had about 28,000 servicemembers and I was responsible for making sure that the services were in place for sexual assault victims, the awareness program, and victims advocate training."

"You're on-call 24/7," she said. Taking ownership of the campaign and implementation of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program in a combat environment made for an exhausting, but ultimately gratifying schedule for Brown, she said.

"Every time I (counseled) a victim, I felt like I was making a difference," she said. "Every time I trained an advocate... every time I hung up a poster, I felt like I was making a difference."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16