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DoD Honors Sexual Assault Response Coordinators

April 23, 2015 | BY Cheryl Pellerin

The Defense Department this month is honoring six sexual assault response coordinators, or SARCs, one from each service, for outstanding efforts to help sexual assault victims and for commitment to preventing the crime.

DoD officials, led by Director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow, considered the efforts of more than 2,000 qualified SARCs from each military service and the National Guard Bureau.

”Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Victim Advocates provide a beacon of support to the victims of sexual assault and ensure they get the help they need,” Snow said. “These responders provide support on the front lines and are professionally trained to provide informed advocacy services and facilitate recovery. It is the compassion, empathy, support, knowledge, and tenacity of the SARCs that has contributed to the progress of our SAPR program.”

Exceptional SARCs of the Year were chosen from the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, National Guard and Coast Guard as part of National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

Single Point of Contact

A SARC is the single point of contact for coordinating sexual assault victim care, from an initial report of sexual assault through disposition and resolution of issues related to a survivor’s health and well-being.

A coordinator institutes sexual assault prevention initiatives and ensures a victim support system is in place that offers around-the-clock sexual assault response capabilities for all survivors.

Every year since 2009 the Defense Department has recognized exceptional SARCs for providing noteworthy prevention and response care and support to military victims of sexual assault.

This year's 2015 Exceptional Sexual Assault Response Coordinators are described below.

Pamela Reeves, Air Force

For the Air Force, Pamela Reeves made exceptional contributions as installation SARC for the 377th Air Base Wing, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2014.

During that time her technical expertise and communication skills ensured immediate care for 70 sexual assault victims and facilitated the related investigations.

Reeves maintained a 24/7 response capability by recruiting more than 100 volunteer victim advocates and maintaining a trained and certified advocate force. She also collaborated with off-base agencies to arrange free legal services from Community Justice for Survivors of Sexual Violence to support a survivor whose case was outside military jurisdiction.

Outside her primary duties, Reeves trained and mentored 30 sexual assault nurse examiners and 25 rape crisis center volunteers each quarter, and helped relocate a special victims' counsel to the Sexual Assault Response Coordination Office, improving victim access and reducing the cost of air travel to Kirkland's remote location.

First Lt. Nicole Myers, Army

For the Army, First Lt. Nicole Myers is recognized for exceptional meritorious service as the National Training Center and Fort Irwin sexual harassment/assault response and prevention deputy program manager, SARC and victim advocate from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2014.

She displayed unmatched commitment toward soldiers, civilians, and family members by coordinating education and training events that promoted an installation-wide environment focused on reducing sexual assault.

Myers developed initiatives that helped survivors’ healing processes, showing genuine concern for everyone who lives, works and trains on Fort Irwin.

Erinn Izykowski, Marine Corps

For the Marine Corps, Erinn Izykowski is recognized for exceptional service as the SARC for Training Command in Quantico, Virginia.

Izykowski demonstrated professionalism and dedication in her work for a command of 6,500 permanent and more than 62,000 student personnel who train Marines in their occupational specialties across the United States in Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force installations.

She is the commanding general's SARC and works with more than 130 uniformed victim advocates, and she is the command SARC for five of 18 colonel-level major subordinate elements.

Izykowski stayed in constant contact with sister service SARCs at installations where Marines are trained, making sure that all Marine survivors received services and whose cases were entered into in the Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database.

Sharlyne Hays, Navy

For the Navy, Sharlyne Hays is recognized for exceptional service as a SARC for Naval Base Kitsap in Washington state. She developed creative trainings such as “Walk the PLANK,” which stands for practical lessons for advocates needing knowledge, and “Hosting House Parties,” both recognized by the Department of Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office as best practices.

Hays regularly collaborates with command leadership to promote a positive, protective approach for survivors, and creates strong partnerships with local law enforcement, legal services, treatment facilities and advocates to make sure all services work together for the benefit of survivors.

Hays’s focus on survivor care has led to the development of the SOAR psycho-educational support group, which stands for survivors overcoming assault and rape.

Heather Mattson, National Guard

For the National Guard Bureau, Heather Mattson is recognized for exceptional achievement while serving as the SARC for the North Dakota National Guard.

Mattson displayed a passion to dispel myths and challenge negative attitudes toward survivors of sexual assault. She is widely recognized as an innovator and is often sought out for advice and assistance.

Mattson established a curriculum committee to ensure the delivery of current training. Her energy and interactive presentations increased audience participation, elevating training effectiveness.

She served as vice chairperson of People United for Living in Safe Environment, or PULSE, a response team of community agencies and organizations that work to secure resources to aid in survivor recovery of survivors, and worked to increase outreach and public awareness.

Lauren Jennings, Coast Guard

For the Coast Guard, Lauren Jennings is recognized for outstanding service as the SARC for the Health, Safety and Work Life Office in Portsmouth, Virginia, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2014. She is a creative leader and manager who initiated many improvements to the sexual assault prevention and response program.

Because many of Jennings’ clients are located far from major military bases, she has built community partnerships with civilian resources to better respond to military sexual assault survivors. She has advocated for victims by ensuring access to trained and accredited victim advocates and assigned special victims counsels.

Jennings also has supported 27 sensitive cases involving multiple victims from other districts and provided training for more than 3,000 active duty and civilian personnel.

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)