Across the United States, April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Throughout the month, the Department of Defense calls on service members to recognize and understand the issue of sexual assault in the military.

On Ramstein, the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office has joined with Army counterpart Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention to educate the KMC about the realities of sexual assault. In accordance with the 2014 SAAM theme of "Live Our Values: Step Up to Stop Sexual Assault," SAPR and SHARP will raise awareness by urging service members to "step in" against sexual assault.

"We need to prevent by educating," said Carmen Schott, SAPR sexual assault response coordinator. ?"We need to spread the message to Airmen that when you put this uniform on, you're being held to a higher standard. You?'re in the United States Air Force. Protect your wingmen, and look out for each other."

Schott said the main focus of SAAM is teaching preventative measures.

"Step up, step in and don't be a bystander," she said. "Make smart decisions, drink (responsibly), be smart about who you trust. Most people that come forward know their attacker. It's not just strangers."

SAPR and SHARP personnel will also educate KMC service members on the resources available for victims of sexual assault.

An individual who has been sexually harassed or assaulted may seek help from the SARC at any time. Victims have a choice between two types of incident reports when filing. A restricted report allows a victim access to counseling services, medical care and the assignment of both a sexual assault response coordinator and SAPR victim advocate without the notification of chain of command or the authorities. In contrast, an unrestricted report will not be kept confidential, and an investigation of the alleged attacker by law enforcement may occur.

No matter what route a victim chooses to take, the SARC will provide care and further resources for an individual who suffers a sexual assault.

"We want to get the word out and encourage more people to come forward," Schott said. "We want them to feel comfortable they can trust the resources that are available to them."

On Ramstein, SAAM events began April 1 at the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center with information tables and the signing of a proclamation to fight sexual assault by command.

Other SAAM events include:
•Monday: Comedian Bernie McGrenahan will perform at the Hercules Theater.
•April 18: Denim Day and continuation of the photo booth event will take place at the KMCC.
•April 19: Self-defense seminars will be held at the Ramstein Southside Fitness Center with sessions available for both males and females.
•April 30: A joint closing ceremony will occur in the KMCC food court.

For more information about sexual assaults and resources, call the SARC office on Ramstein at 480-5597. The SARC hotline may be reached at any time at 480-7272.