Photo and Commentary by Michelle McBride
While April is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, on Thursday, April 2, 2015 members of the Texas Military Forces leadership decided to bring awareness to this serious issue with a proclamation declaring April “Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.”
At the ceremony, Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, Texas Adjutant General; Command Chief Master Sgt. Marlon Nation, Senior Enlisted Advisor, Texas Air National Guard; and Command Chief Warrant Officer Earnest Metcalf, Texas Army National Guard, signed the proclamation in support of eliminating sexual assault.
“We create a culture of dignity when we work together,” said Caitlin Sulley, from the Institute on Domestic/Sexual Violence at the University of Texas at Austin, who appeared as a guest speaker at the ceremony.
This year, the Department of Defense’s theme is “Eliminate Sexual Assault: Know Your Part. Do Your Part.”
Eliminate Sexual Assault: Every service member, at every level in our military, must know, understand and adhere to service values and standards of behavior in order to eliminate sexual assault, and other inappropriate behavior.
Know Your Part: Each member of our Department of Defense community has a unique role in preventing and responding to sexual assault. We must recognize our part in stopping this crime starting with our own awareness and knowing when and where to intervene
Do your Part: We have to act. If we see a crime or inappropriate behavior unfolding, we need to step in to prevent it. We each need to add our voice to the call to end this crime.
This theme was set with the expectation that all service members, civilians and family members do their part in preventing sexual assault and should encourage victims to report offenses.
“Change your behavior or get out of my organization,” said Nichols. “I think we have trust and dignity for each other, but there are some who want to come in and take that away. They are not allowed in our formation.”