DOD recognizes Sexual Assault Response Coordinator of Year
April 23, 2012
- Army.mil: Inside the Army News
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- U.S. Army Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program
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WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 23, 2012) -- Master Sgt. William A. Downey was honored as the Army's Sexual Assault Response Coordinator of the Year in a DOD ceremony at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes April 18, as family members, guests and VIPs gathered to witness the presentation.
When asked after the presentation why his work is so important, Downey said "How do we know that the last lieutenant that was sexually assaulted and later decided to get out (of the service) would not have been the next General Dunwoody?" Then he said the next specialist that might be sexually assaulted could potentially be on the path to be a future sergeant major of the Army.
"Sexual assaults are destroying our future and our future leaders," Downey said, explaining why he has been dedicated to stopping the crime and helping its victims.
Currently serving as Equal Opportunity senior enlisted advisor at U.S. Army Central in Sumter, S.C., Downey improved the SARC response time for the command and the training for deployed victim advocates.
Downey "immediately recognized the need to increase the response time of unit victim advocates in response to sexual assault survivors," said Lt. Col. William Bonilla, EO program manager of 3rd Army/Third U.S. Army/U.S. Army Forces Central Command, or USARCENT, at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter.
"His effort significantly impacted initial response time for victim advocates to make first contact with their sexual assault survivors."
Downey, Bonilla said, established a unique rapport with all of the sexual assault first responders.
"Besides meeting at the Sexual Assault Review Board, they also meet on a regular basis to ensure that sexual assault survivors receive the best quality of care and services," Bonilla said.
He also meets with all of the major subordinate command Deployable Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, or DSARCs, on a regular basis to discuss the way ahead for the sexual assault program and seeks out improvements for the various camps and installations.
Downey supported the mobilization requirement for units to have DSARCs and victim advocates prior to deployment by planning and executing the DSARC/Unit Victim Advocate, or UVA, course in theater at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
"He is directly responsible for training and certifying 147 victim advocates and 43 DSARCs for Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, and Kuwait," Bonilla said. "This is an outstanding feat as the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP Mobile Training Team had contractual issues and was unable to support the need until the new fiscal year."
Knowing that training was needed, he said, Downey executed a DSARC/UVA training course in September, and certified another 32 UVAs and 11 DSARCs for 2011.
"The DSARC/UVA course also helped to reinforce previously trained SHARP skills until such time as the program is fully implemented," Bonilla said. He added that Downey scheduled two separate 80-hour SHARP certification trainings provided by an Army Mobile Training Team in January and February of this year.
Challenged by the availability of classrooms and their capacity, Downey briefed the USARCENT command sergeant major and the Army chief of staff on the need for a permanent building with a capacity for 70 personnel.
He argued that a classroom for the Equal Opportunity Leaders Course, DSARC, UVA and SHARP trainings all need to be in an environment that is conducive to learning.
As a result, Bonilla said Downey secured training support packages for the SHARP Pre/Post-Deployment and annual training.
Along with other DSARCs, Downey maximized training opportunities by securing the post chapel, and advertising to all units. He was instrumental in planning, coordinating, and executing the Department of the Army's mandatory Pre/Post Deployment SHARP training for more than 2,400 Soldiers and DA civilians on the installation.
"He was relentless in providing weekly SHARP training updates to the Department of the Army, as required. Ultimately, Downey was able to provide enough training support to allow USARCENT to reach 87 percent completion on SHARP Pre/Post-Deployment training and over 80 percent Team Bound training prior to September 30th, 2011," Bonilla said.
"This is a continuous effort as the command experienced significant turnover of personnel as a result of permanent change of stations. Downey volunteers to provide the training with other DSARCs on the installation whenever there is a need within the area of responsibility," Bonilla continued.
PSA PRODUCED TO SPREAD THE WORD
Downey, said Bonilla, can be credited with bringing sexual assault awareness to the forefront.
He assisted with the writing, coordination and execution of Command Sgt. Major Fourhman's public service announcement for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. A similar PSA was also written for the commanding general of ARCENT.
"Downey coordinated with the Public Affairs Office to gain a copy of the Sergeant Major of the Army's PSA on Sexual Assault Prevention shot while he was visiting Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. Along with the PAO, he conducted the first live interview by the Third Army/USARCENT Equal Opportunity and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office," Bonilla said.
The interview was aired for two weeks on the command channel for all Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, DA civilians, and contractors. An encore production of this interview was scheduled to be aired overseas again this month.
ENHANCING PROTECTION IN LIVING AREAS
"Downey serves as the co-chair for the ARCENT Sexual Assault Review Board, or SARB, and is also a member of the Area Support Group-Kuwait Installation SARB. He and other DSARCs listened to Soldiers' concerns about the safety of their living areas," Bonilla said.
So Downey and others, he said, addressed the need for better lighting, the need for Third-Country Nationals to leave their work site immediately upon completion of their duty day and the need for peep-holes in domicile doors to facilitate the identification of personnel without having to open the door.
"These were all great initiatives to safeguard the daily activities of military and civilian personnel. Downey is currently working to move solar emergency call boxes from Iraq to Kuwait. This will help to facilitate the timely response of victims of sexual assault as well as potential medical emergencies around our camps," he said.
"He is also providing support to the drawdown of forces from Iraq. Early coordination with program managers, DSARCs, Equal Opportunity Advisors, or EOAs, and UVAs from United States Forces - Iraq, or USF-I, helped to identify their support requirements and outline a plan of action to incorporate them into our programs," Bonilla said.
SEXUAL ASSAULT DATABASE CLEANED UP
"Downey has made his impact on the program by reconciling sexual assault cases with the Sexual Assault Database Management System, or SADMS. The DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office initiated an effort to clean up the database of old or outstanding cases," Bonilla said.
So, he said, Downey took the initiative to reconcile sexual assault cases with the Criminal Investigation Division and update the required reporting information in SADMS.
"He sacrificed countless hours to properly document, file, and update cases for the command and it's down trace, and is currently spearheading an effort to support a Department of Justice request to maintain sexual assault cases indefinitely to answer Freedom of Information Act requests.
"In an effort to recover all sexual assault files dating back to 2006, Downey is working closely with CID, Military Protective Office, and all of the installation DSARCs to accomplish this enormous task while keeping the integrity of the program intact," Bonilla said.
Downey has been married to his wife, Tonya Denise Downey of Washington, D.C., for seven years and they have two sons, Khalil, 16, and Khristopher, 3.