SAPR briefings begin at Laughlin

Col. Brian Hastings, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, briefs members of the 47th Operations Group about sexual assault prevention at Anderson Hall on Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, June 14, 2013. The briefing was the first of many scheduled to take place here between June 14 and June 19 as part of the secretary of defense directed Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Stand-down Day. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nathan Maysonet)

Col. Brian Hastings, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, briefs members of the 47th Operations Group about sexual assault prevention at Anderson Hall on Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, June 14, 2013. The briefing was the first of many scheduled to take place here between June 14 and June 19 as part of the secretary of defense directed Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Stand-down Day. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nathan Maysonet)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Laughlin's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Stand-down briefings began June 14 and are scheduled to continue through June 19.

Instituted by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in mid-May, The SAPR Stand-down is designed to give commanders across all service branches the chance to confront the problem of sexual assaults in the military.

"Sexual assault will not be tolerated at this wing," said Col. Brian Hastings, 47th Flying Training Wing commander. "Sexual assault endangers our fellow airmen, pollutes our core values and violates the sacred trust of those who serve and whom we serve."

Central to the briefings is the reiteration of the Air Force's zero tolerance of sexual assault and the Air Force's continuing focus on fostering a climate of dignity and respect.

"Is sexual assault a Department of Defense problem, an Air Force problem or is it a societal problem?" asked Hastings. "The Air Force is a microcosm of society and that makes it our problem, the Air Force will take the lead, and we will push forward to solve the problem."

Each briefing begins with a commander's call covering a variety of topics including: sexual assault, consent, ethics training, bystander intervention, zero tolerance policy and more.

Following the commander's call is a unit breakout where attendees are separated into groups for a more personal discussion on the effects of sexual assault and the culture and climate that perpetuates the behavior.

"We are faced with a real problem," said Sabrina Peña, 47th FTW Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. "We would not be here in training and the Air Force would not be spending more than $200 million on sexual assault prevention a year if sexual assault was not a problem."

"This morning's SAPR training was informative and educational," said Airman 1st Class Samantha Fetzer, 47th Communications Squadron knowledge operations manager and SAPR training attendee. "I believe this step shows that the Air Force is taking charge to change a real problem."

SAPR Stand-down day marks the beginning of a cultural change.

"Sexual assault has no place in our Air Force," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh, "We live in a culture of respect. We cherish our core values of integrity, service, and excellence. But in order to ensure all Airmen experience and benefit from those values, we must eliminate sexual assault in our ranks."