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Monthlong campaign helps bolster sexual assault awareness

  • Published
  • By Eric M. White
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The 910th Airlift Wing has a full-time team dedicated to preventing and, when needed, responding to sexual assault involving Youngstown Air Reserve Station members. Doing their part to raise awareness, the team put together several activities in honor of SAAM, which the Department of Defense refers to as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, emphasizing prevention.

Throughout April, the 910th Security Forces Squadron’s patrol cars have been adorned with teal ribbons, the theme color and symbol for SAAM. Becky Peace, a volunteer with the Rape Crisis Team of Trumbull County, prepares the ribbons each year and delivers them to law enforcement agencies throughout Trumbull County. Peace delivered the ribbons to YARS on March 28 so they’d be ready for April and helped install the first on the antenna of a police cruiser here.

Shelly Trimble is the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for the 910 AW.

“The teal ribbon is the visible symbol of sexual assault awareness,” said Trimble. “Police are most often the first responders to sexual assault cases. By putting a teal ribbon on a police car, it symbolizes that the police respond and support sexual assault survivors.”

Trimble set up and staffed an informational and promotional table in the Community Activity Center here to help connect Reserve Citizen Airmen with resources to increase awareness and enhance prevention efforts.

The table also featured what Trimble dubbed positive planks and kindness rocks. Kindness rocks are small stones painted with colorful patterns and encouraging positive words like inspire, dream, love, sing and smile. Karen Hazle-Johnson, the 910th’s violence prevention integrator, created the positive planks, rustic decorative boards with similar positive words or phrases. Trimble and representatives from other helping agencies on base provided the supplies for members to make their own positive planks and kindness rocks during a lunchtime workshop on April 11.

As a capstone to the month at YARS, 910 AW Commander Col. Joe Janik authorized base personnel to wear denim to work on April 24 in honor of Denim Day. According to the Denim Day website at www.denimdayinfo.org, “For the past 20 years, Peace Over Violence has run its Denim Day campaign on a Wednesday in April in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”

The month of activities were intended to help boost this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention theme, “protecting our people protects our mission.”

“Together, we can work to further reduce, with the goal to eliminate, sexual assault from the armed forces,” said Trimble. “Our military is the most trusted institution in America and our service members have signed a blank check to the American people, payable with their lives. This crime must not threaten those who have volunteered to serve.”