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Defense Department honors Guard member, DOD personnel for combating sexual assault

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department Wednesday honored the men and women who are on the front lines of the battle against the crime of sexual assault, including Colorado Army National Guard Maj. Alisa M. Englert.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog, director of the department's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, saluted DOD's sexual assault response coordinators, saying they treat all victims with dignity and respect and are tireless advocates for the victims of these crimes.

The ceremony honored six men and women who serve as sexual assault response coordinators for their excellence. They are: Army Master Sgt. William A. Downey, Navy civilian Julia G. Powell, Marine Corps civilian Latricia Kamins, Air Force Capt. Terri L. Zuber, Coast Guard civilian Magnus John Graham, and Englert, who works at the Colorado National Guard's joint headquarters.

Hertog thanked the award winners for making a difference every day. The coordinators present classes aimed at prevention. They also take care of victims of the crime and interface with commanders. All these efforts are aimed "to build an environment free of sexual assault," the general said.

The award winners all have key attributes in common, Hertog said. The first is "you treat victims with dignity and respect, and that is the key to help them pass this crisis," she said. "Building on that, you have proven yourselves to be tireless victim advocates to ensure the best possible case management with commanders."

The coordinators often are a victim's first point of contact in the program, Hertog said, and as such, they are the program's center of gravity. "We not only rely on you to take care of our victims, but we rely on you to make sure our victims know what's available to them from forensic exams to counseling services to our new options, such as expedited transfer, document retention and expanded legal services."

Jo Ann Rooney, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said the coordinators are putting teeth into the department's contention that sexual assault has no place in the Defense Department and is totally opposed to American values.

"Our theme today ? 'Hurts One, Affects All' ? has been on the hearts and on the minds of each of our honorees today each and every single day," Rooney said.

The coordinators work tirelessly to improve the department's response to sexual crimes and to prevent those crimes through education, she said. "We are committed to creating a zero-tolerance culture in the military and this begins with the department taking on a broad, wide effort to tackle this issue," she added. "I do hope you realize that your impact is creating the momentum for this to truly be changed into action."

Original content found here.
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