WASHINGTON, April 23, 2014 -- The Defense Department has honored six exceptional sexual assault response coordinators as part of April's observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

These service members and Defense Department civilians are being recognized for their outstanding efforts in assisting victims of sexual assault and for their commitment to preventing this crime, officials said.

"The 2014 exceptional SARCs deserve recognition for their professional abilities and service on the front lines and for the quality care they provide for victims of sexual assault," said Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow, director of the DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. "I am privileged to work with such dedicated individuals who continue to strengthen the department's prevention and response efforts."

More than 20,000 sexual assault response coordinators throughout the Defense Department and the Coast Guard, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, have received professional training and certification through the DOD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program.

They serve as the single point of contact for integrating and coordinating sexual assault victim care, from the initial report of sexual assault through disposition and resolution of issues related to the victim's health and well-being. The SARC is responsible for ensuring a victim support system is in place that provides around-the-clock sexual assault response capabilities for all victims within their designated area of responsibility.

This year's Exceptional SARC awardees are:

-- Army Master Sgt. Richard V. Fry, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, Germany;

-- Shannon M. Moyer, Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.;

-- Midge M. Scott, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C.;

-- Cindy W. Graver, Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

-- Air Force Maj. Katherine Maines, Joint Force Headquarters, Connecticut; and

-- Christopher Hooper, 8th Coast Guard District, Mo.

Since 2009, the Defense Department has annually recognized exceptional sexual assault response coordinators for providing noteworthy care and support in prevention and response efforts to military victims of sexual assault.

The awards are presented to the winners by their respective commands in conjunction with April's Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Nominees were submitted by each of the four services, the Coast Guard, and the National Guard Bureau from within their ranks.