LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas - - Colonel Michael Frankel, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, and Roberto Fernandez, Del Rio mayor, sign the Sexual Assault Awareness Month proclamation at Del Rio’s City Hall on April 4. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Angela Martin)
LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas - - Local supporters of Sexual Assault Awareness Month met on April 4 as Col. Michael Frankel, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, and Roberto Fernandez, Del Rio mayor, signed the SAAM proclamation at Del Rio’s City Hall. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Angela Martin)
by 2nd Lt. Angela Martin
47th Flying Training Wing public affairs
4/6/2011 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Colonel Michael Frankel, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, teamed up with Roberto Fernandez, Del Rio mayor, at city hall April 4 to proclaim April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Del Rio and Laughlin.
According to the SAAM proclamation, SAAM is intended to raise awareness of sexual violence as an intolerable crime. Laughlin and Del Rio have dedicated the month of April to working as a community to educate everyone about preventing sexual assault, supporting survivors and their significant others and ensuring survivors are not victimized again.
"Sexual assault is a crime that affects more than just the person involved, the entire community is effected," said Colonel Frankel. "Through Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Laughlin stands with the Del Rio community for the common purpose of making our community better, not only for tomorrow, but for today."
The 2011 theme of SAAM is 'Hurts one, affects all,' with the Air Force-specific theme being 'Real wingmen act: Ask! Act! Intervene!'
"This year's theme focuses on Airmen actively preventing sexual assault," said Machelle Terrell, 47th FTW sexual assault response coordinator. "Nobody wants our Airmen to be victimized or charged with a crime. We have to work together to prevent sexual assault in the Air Force."
According to the 2010 Gallup Survey, 3.4 percent of women in the Air Force and .5 percent of men experienced sexual assault within the last year. These percentages translate to 2,143 women and 1,155 men.
"The significance of the Gallup Survey is that it was an anonymous survey based on active duty and Air Force Academy personnel who chose to participate," said Terrell. "There could be more Airmen who were victimized but are choosing not to tell anyone."
The survey found several reasons victims may keep their assault a secret.
"Some victims don't want other Airmen, superiors or family to know. Some fear retaliation or recurrence if they report the assault. Other Airmen don't consider their assault serious enough to be reported," said Terrell. "Every victim deserves to be heard and helped."
At Laughlin, there will be several events throughout the month of April to raise awareness. Youth education will take place at the library and youth center. Self defense classes are being taught at the Losano Fitness Center. On April 23, a Kick the Silence kickball tournament is scheduled to take place.
Laughlin has also joined with the Val Verde Regional Medical Center and Baptist Child and Family Services to raise awareness and help victims in Del Rio. Together, these agencies provide 24 hour hotline services, respond to emergency calls, offer crisis intervention and provide advocacies during medical exams, criminal proceedings and during the healing process.
"Having these programs are extremely vital for so many reasons. They create awareness in the community and work hard to keep it safe," said Raquel Rodriguez, BCFS program director. "Today's proclamation signing is an important milestone for our local communities because we do have a problem. Events like this help us reconnect as agencies, improve how we educate the community and better serve victims in crisis."
To learn more about the events taking place this month or receive information about how to be helped during a crisis, please call the SARC office at 298-4545.