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News > Sexual Assault Focus Group Visits Begin at Wright-Patterson
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Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, left, greets Senior Airman Jhosselin Alonzo during a focus group session at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, July 23, 2013. Woodward and her team are undergoing a series of visits at several bases, to gather information and hear from Airman in the field about sexual assault prevention and reporting. During her visit, she met with several groups, to include officers, enlisted and DOD civilians. Woodward is the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office director and Alonzo heads up Wright-Patt's Air Force Junior Support, a group founded on helping their peers cope with the many challenges young Airmen face. (U.S. Air Force photo/Albert Bright)
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Sexual Assault Focus Group Visits Begin at Wright-Patterson

Posted 7/24/2013   Updated 7/24/2013 Email story   Print story


by Brian Brackens
88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

7/24/2013 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- To better understand and deter sexual assault within the service, Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office director, kicked off the first in a series of visits to installations with a stop at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, July 22-23.

Woodward hosted focus groups with senior leaders, junior military members and survivors to get a pulse on Airmen's thoughts regarding sexual assault.

During the visit, Woodward challenged senior leaders to inspire and set the tone for change.

"We know that Airmen really want to talk about this issue, and they want to talk openly and clearly," Woodward said. "The key for you as leaders is to be able to cascade down the change that we need by educating and effectively communicating with your Airmen."

According to Woodward, changing the Air Force's climate and culture to be intolerant of behavior that disrespects and demeans fellow Airmen plays a critical role in stopping sexual assault.

Woodward also challenged leaders to be clear in communicating what is unacceptable behavior.

"We as leaders have to be clear where the line is," she said. "There should be no ambiguity -- we have to make sure our Airmen know where that line is and not to cross it."

Woodward urged focus group participants to take action to ensure everyone in the Air Force is informed about the issue.

"Preventing sexual assault is so important to our Air Force," Woodward said. "We have to make sure that everyone understands the problem, its dynamics and what they can do to help."

Col. Cassie Barlow, the 88th Air Base Wing commander here, said Woodward's visit is an indicator of how serious the Air Force takes the issue of sexual assault.

"Change has to happen; we owe it to the victims, we owe it to our Air Force and we owe it to the nation we serve, to live by our core values and protect our fellow Airmen," Barlow said. "General Woodward's visit highlighted the Air Force's commitment to preventing sexual assault and I am confident that together we can."

The Pentagon-based Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Team plans to visit 10 continental and overseas installations during the next 60 days as part of the overall assessment process to identify Airmen's perspectives as well as innovative strategies to attack the crime of sexual assault.

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