By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andrew Meyers, Defense Media Activity Anacostia
April 10, 2010 - WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Service members, civilian employees and Department of Defense personnel gathered in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes to recognize the significant accomplishments of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program advocates from U.S. governmental facilities throughout the world April 9.
During the awards ceremony Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Plans), Gail H. McGinn presented the 2010 Exceptional Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) Award to Lawton, Okla. native Vicki Shepherd, Commander Navy Region Europe/Commander Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.
"Being a coordinator gives me a chance to connect with the community," said Shepherd. "I do this job because I love it, it's humbling to be recognized."
According to Sheperd, the SARC Exceptional Coordinator Award is designed to recognize the dedication to SARC standards, adherence to SAPR ideals and values and a commitment to train volunteers and advise and assist victims. It is important at a command, fleet and Navywide level.
"At the Navy level this program is helping with mission readiness. We are helping the command retain personnel," said Shepherd.
The new SAPR program, which replaced the former Sexual Assault Victim Intervention program in November 2009, is nearly identical to its predecessor, but serves to highlight the prevention and response activities advocates employ, as well as victim intervention.
Navy leaders are making sexual assault prevention a top priority, with prevention efforts focused on non-stranger and alcohol-facilitated sexual assaults.
According to the Navy's 2009 Annual Report of Sexual Assaults in the Military, more than half of the reports involved military subjects committing offenses against military victims.
Efforts to curb sexual assaults throughout the Navy include SARC training as part of each Sailor's annual general military training requirement, and the inclusion of sexual assault awareness questions on Navywide advancement exams could occur as early as 2011.