What a great day to be alive and working in support of the famed Marne Division! As a matter-of-fact, what a great month it is.

This month, as we welcome more of our Soldiers home, is a good time to pay attention to some of the more than 30 observances happening in October. The two observances this month that jump out in front of all others are National Domestic Violence Awareness and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention. There are tons of events, activities, and highlights in and around the community to educate us on how to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault, and to make us aware of our options if any of us should become a victim.

I am going to say, up front, that sexual assault and domestic violence are contrary to Army values and are punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Neither violation is tolerated against members of the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield community. If you have issues either as a victim or potential perpetrator, get help now.

Now, more than ever, we have to demonstrate our commitment to provide our Families, and community with a strong supportive environment where everyone is not only safe but can feel safe throughout the day.

The garrison commander and I are asking everyone in the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield community, inside and outside the gate, to mobilize and play a role in supporting domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, not only during this month, but throughout the year and into the future. Let's keep the home front secure for everyone.

I can tell you from where I sit that the senior and garrison commanders are very serious about protecting the victim and his or her confidentiality, and serious about stopping the predator. The garrison commander himself chairs over-watch committees that track each domestic violence and sexual assault case. Although the commander's first priorities are the dignity and confidentiality of the victim, he is determined to bring justice to each case and to prevent further harm to the victim.

A lack of action in the face of sexual assault puts our friends, Families and co-workers in jeopardy. When you see or know of someone who looks like they could use assistance, I encourage you to ask if they need help. When they ask for help, be sure to step in and assist. If you see someone who doesn't recognize impending trouble, do something to intervene and prevent the situation from becoming worse. Most importantly, educate yourself to be an important source of information and support.

DoD and Army policies to address sexual assault prevention are simple and straight forward. Keeping in mind that victims are males as well as females, these policies are designed to establish a climate of confidence throughout the military in which:
Aca,!Ac Sexual assault and the attitudes that promote it are not tolerated;
Aca,!Ac Victims of sexual assault receive the care and support that they need, and
Aca,!Ac Offenders are held accountable for their actions.

I am convinced that with early intervention, domestic violence and sexual assault can be avoided. We have professionals on the installation who are eager to assist domestic violence and sexual assault victims while providing compassionate confidential services. If you are abusing your partner, take responsibility for ending the abuse by getting help for yourself.

To report suspected or confirmed cases of domestic violence call 911 for immediate intervention; and call social work service for ongoing problems at 912-435-6779 at Stewart and 912-315-5236 at Hunter.

Sexual assault help or prevention is available via the following contacts:
Sexual Assault Response Coordinator: 912-271-2910
Victim Advocacy Program: 912-767-3032 at Stewart, or 912-315-5343 at Hunter
Military Law Enforcement: 911
Rape Crisis Center: 1-888-241-7273

Again, if you are a potential perpetrator, get help; if you are an observer, help; and if you are a victim, know that Army policy allows you to get help in full confidence and leaves disclosure options up to you.