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Nationally, April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, or SAAM. Originally, women-only protests emerged in direct response to the violence women encountered, but before long the activities became more coordinated and quickly developed into a movement that included issues of sexual violence against men and men's participation in ending sexual violence.

The goal of Sexual Assault Awareness Month is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent it. Sexual assault is a problem for our military which will require sustained vigilance and a steadfast team effort to eradicate.

Additionally, sexual assault breaks the bond of trust among Soldiers that essential to the mission, degrades mission readiness by harming the victim and the unit's ability to work effectively as a team. With unprecedented leader commitment, matched by strong personal commitments from every Soldier, civilian and family member, we can establish a climate that does not tolerate, condone, or ignore sexist behavior, sexual harassment, or sexual assault.

Granted, there is no surefire way to prevent an attack; therefore the Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign includes a greater focus on prevention. We stand with survivors of sexual assault, come together to break the silence, and commit to rid our formations of all forms of sexual violence.

According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a recent press release: "As military professionals we must fully understand the destructive nature of these acts (sexual assault); lead our focused efforts to prevent them, and promote positive command climates and environments that reinforce mutual respect, trust and confidence. Sexual assault among service members is a problem we face together, and that can only be solved together."

The Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Program reinforces the Army's commitment to prevent incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault through a comprehensive policy that centers on awareness, training and education, victim advocacy, response, reporting and accountability.

The SHARP Program provides advocacy services and resources that supports victim recovery from the trauma of sexual assault, works to reduce the incidence of sexual assault, and lifts the veil of secrecy and shame associated with reporting sexual violence.

Join SHARP specialists, first responders and community members as we affect change to ensure no victim anguishes in their time of greatest need. We will accomplish this by reinforcing the importance of bystander intervention to stop unsafe behavior, identify measures to prevent sexual violence and display our personal commitment to ensuring everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

We are called with purpose to respond to and eliminate all forms of sexual violence from our ranks. The Grafenwoehr Military Community will host the following events during the 2013 SAAM campaign:

-- April 1 and 3: "The Invisible War," a documentary about rape/sexual assault in U.S. military, which includes a collection of stories of military sexual trauma survivors, interviews with high ranking military officials and members of Congress. The film will be shown April 1, at 9 a.m. and noon at the Rose Barracks theater; and April 3 at 9 a.m. at the Graf. Tower Theater; All DA civilians are required to attend one showing.

-- April 3: Take Back the Night, a candlelight march starting at 7:30 p.m. Bldg. 131 in front of the JMTC flagpole

-- April 15: Information Drive at the Grafenwoehr Exchange, 11 a.m. -1 p.m.

-- April 20: Sexual Assault Awareness Month 5K Run/Walk, from 9-11 a.m. at the Grafenwoehr Physical Fitness Center.

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