Sexual Assault Prevention teams support JBER

  • Published
  • By Airman Raina Dale
  • JBER Public Affairs

Programs like the U.S. Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, or SAPR, and the U.S. Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, play a crucial role in addressing and combating sexual violence within military communities. The significance of the programs’ initiatives, their impact on service members, and the ongoing efforts aid in creating a safer, supportive environment.

SAPR and SHARP teams are responsible for providing survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment with immediate and comprehensive support including counseling, medical care, and legal assistance. 

“The SHARP Program executes response, advocacy, and prevention throughout effective communication with internal and external stakeholders,” said Charlea Hawkins, the 11th Airborne Division and U.S. Army Alaska lead sexual assault response coordinator (SARC).

At JBER, the SAPR and SHARP teams aim to provide services to victims in any way possible. 

“Even if they don't meet the criteria of what we handle here, within our office, we enforce the ‘no wrong door’ policy, so we'll help them find whoever they need to,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Preston Wilson, the deputy SARC. “If they're not able to be helped by a military service, we have great connections with the local rape-crisis centers.”

With sexual harassment falling under the jurisdiction of SAPR, victims of sexual harassment can receive supportive services from SAPR. Victims of both sexual assault and harassment are able to make restricted or unrestricted reports; both types of report allow people to access medical services, legal aid, and advocacy services.

An unrestricted report is reported to the chain of command and law enforcement; a restricted report is handled with confidentiality and is only communicated via trained and certified SAPR personnel including victim advocates.

“We work closely with outside entities so if someone is uncomfortable receiving services on base, they can receive care how they want to and where they want to,” said Kelly Graham, a SARC. “We are with them through the entire process, even if they move.”

One of the Department of Defense services in regards to sexual assault and harassment is the Catch A Serial Offender program database. CATCH allows survivors to anonymously submit suspect information to help the DOD identify serial offenders – whether they filed restricted reports, unrestricted reports where the name of the suspect is not reported to law enforcement or uncovered by law enforcement, or no report at all.

Another service is the Safe to Report policy. This policy removes a significant barrier for reporting sexual assaults by giving survivors the freedom to make an unrestricted report without fear of being penalized for minor collateral misconduct. 

In addition to responding to cases, SAPR programs focus on prevention through education and training. By promoting awareness of consent, boundaries, and reporting procedures, SAPR aims to empower service members to recognize and address instances of sexual assault before they escalate. 

“The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program provides advocacy and support to survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment,” said Bethany Burkhart, a SAPR victim advocate.

Overall, these programs play a vital role in promoting a culture of dignity and respect within the military, ensuring all service members and civilian workers can fulfill their duties without fear of harassment or abuse. The JBER SAPR office is in Matanuska Hall, 7153 Fighter Drive, and can be contacted via the main office line at 907-551-2020 or the 24/7 report hotline at 907-384-7272. The SHARP office can be reached 24/7 at the SHARP hotline 907-384-7272 or the DoD Safe 24/7 Helpline 1-877-995-5247.