Victims of sexual assault in the Army will soon be able to rely on support from within their battalion as the result of a new U.S. Army Europe program to be launched next month.

In addition, increased training will aim to prevent future sexual assault crimes, which are the second most reported felony in the Army in Europe.

Specifics on the Army in Europe Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program are set to be published in a memo in late April. That will be followed by a USAREUR regulation later this year.

The program comes on the heels of new guidance recently issued by the Defense Department and Department of the Army relating to sexual assault. One aspect of the guidance is that sexual assault victims will be able to receive medical attention and notify authorities of the incident without prompting an official military investigation.

Just last year, USAREUR embarked on the Sexual Misconduct Awareness Campaign. Now, USAREUR’s approach to dealing with sexual assault must be brought into compliance with the latest guidance.

“What we’re seeing is the refinement of a program that we’ve already had in existence,” said Col. Angie Joseph, chief of USAREUR’s military plans and policy division. “We’ve had to go back and make sure we’re in alignment with department guidance, and, for the most part, we have been.”

Under the forthcoming USAREUR program, sexual assault prevention training will be part of inprocessing, annual unit training, predeployment and reintegration — just to name a few areas. Also, each battalion will name at least two unit victim advocates.

The unit victim advocates, or UVAs, will support sexual assault victims during the medical, investigative and judicial stages that follow an incident. Unit victim advocate training will take place throughout Europe in late April.

Sexual assault victims might not always know the scope of services available to them, said Lt. Col. Al Seal, chief of plans and operations under USAREUR’s military plans and policy division.

“With the UVAs, it’s going to be a big plus,” he said. “That victim advocate will know where those resources are.”

The issue of sexual assault and the new USAREUR program seem to be an important concern for USAREUR’s commander, Gen. B.B. Bell. Earlier this month, Bell devoted his entire weekly newsletter, “Bell Sends,” to the subject.

The latest USAREUR statistics show that 217 investigations into sexual assault crimes took place in 2004. Earlier this month, Department of Defense officials said many experts believe sexual assault to be the most under-reported violent crime in the United States and the military.

The new plan attests to Bell’s commitment of no tolerance on sexual assault, Joseph said.

“As a senior leader, he [Bell] sees this as important not only to USAREUR but also to the Army,” she said.

Some statistics ...

The latest U.S. Army Europe statistics show that of the 217 sexual assault investigations in 2004:

39.8percent of victims were active-duty personnel from the rank of private to corporal.40.7percent of victims were dependent daughters.74.1percent of victims were unmarried.63.2percent of sexual assault suspects were active-duty personnel from the rank of private to staff sergeant.51.3percent of suspects were between the ages of 17 and 26.59.1percent of suspects were unmarried.Source: U.S. Army Europe

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