April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, a time where civilians and military communities come together to raise awareness of efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault and to support survivors. This month also reinforce the mindset that all members of the Army Team are empowered and have the responsibility to address sexual assault, sexual harassment, retaliation and the behaviors that lead to such indiscipline. SAAPM is an opportunity for the Army's leadership to demonstrate to Soldiers, Department of the Army Civilians and Family members that prevention of sexual assault/harassment remains a top priority for the Army.

Maj. Gen. Pete Johnson, Fort Jackson and Army Training Center commander, wrote in the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month Proclamation that, "SAAPM is a great opportunity to honor the first line responders in the SHARP program as their medical, legal, and investigative partners for their tireless efforts to prevent sexual offenses from occurring and for providing first-rate response and victim services when this unfortunate incident does occur.

"I charge our leaders to reexamine command policies and sexual harassment/assault and prevention action plans to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our personnel. Our leaders are key in creating a culture that is free of sexual violence by setting, enforcing, and exemplifying standards
of discipline."

This year the Army has decided to stay with the theme "Sexual Assault. Sexual Harassment. Not in Our Army."

This theme offers numerous opportunities to deliver messages that relate to both the individual and unit level. It also supports the U.S. Department of Defense's theme "Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission." Sexual assault harms victims both physically and emotionally, and its lingering effects can haunt a victim much in the same way as wounds received in battle. Sexual assault is further
complicated by fear of stigma or retaliation for reporting. It not only affects the individual, it also impact mission readiness by compromising unit cohesion, trust, and discipline. Each service member can encourage behaviors that foster a climate of dignity and respect, and help ensure readiness to complete the mission.

Protecting our people

Each of us has a role in ensuring the men and women around us can live and work free from the threat of sexual assault.

Each Service member and Department of the Army Civilian, regardless of rank, must know, understand and adhere to service values and standards of behavior in order to eliminate sexual assault and other inappropriate behavior. Addressing sexual harassment in a unit is an important
step to preventing sexual assaults, since many victims of sexual harassment, especially men, later experience a sexual assault. Understanding how to recognize opportunities for intervention is vital to
stopping unsafe behavior, to include any form of retaliation.

Protecting our mission

In addition to the devastating impact on an individual, a sexual assault can severely impact a unit's readiness to perform its mission. We must encourage positive behaviors by recognizing acts
that contribute to a supportive command climate. We can protect our mission by ensuring everyone within DOD is committed to advancing an environment where sexist behaviors, sexual harassment,
hazing, bullying, and sexual assault are not tolerated, condoned, or ignored.

Every echelon of DOD has a role in fighting sexual assault and other crimes. In order to extend SAAPM's message of focusing on our individual roles in combating sexual harassment and sexual
assault there will be SAAPM activities conducted throughout the month of April on Fort Jackson.
These activities will provide awareness and education of SAAPM to Service members, civilians,
and Families.

Sexual harassment and sexual assault are incompatible with the Army values and erodes solidarity, trust, respect, and ultimately affects mission accomplishment.

The prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault requires the individual to make a personal commitment to take action if a dangerous situation is unfolding not just in the month of April
but every day.