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Immediate Release

Department of Defense Recognizes April 2024 as Annual Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

The Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes April as a call to action for Service members to use their individual and collective strength to advance meaningful change in preventing and responding to sexual violence through this year's enduring theme – "STEP FORWARD. Prevent. Report. Advocate."

DoD emphasizes the link between military readiness and healthy unit climates during Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month by continuing to take unprecedented action toward preventing harmful behaviors within our total force. Military units and organizations with respectful, healthier workplaces tend to experience fewer harmful behaviors, including sexual assault, and the Department continues to invest significant resources to fuel needed change.

In 2023, the Department introduced its STEP FORWARD campaign to increase awareness of sexual assault and resources to enhance response. As it continues its STEP FORWARD campaign in 2024, the Department continues with unprecedented initiatives to change harmful behaviors, improve command climate, provide support to victims of sexual assault, and promote sexual-assault prevention year-round. 

"Secretary Austin has been clear: countering sexual assault is a top priority for the Department. The STEP FORWARD campaign helps us inform everyone about the fundamental changes within the DoD taking aim at sexual assault," said Dr. Nate Galbreath, acting director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. "Each of us has a moral duty to step forward to prevent this crime, increase reporting, and advocate for a safer military community."   

Since day one, the Department has worked diligently to address sexual assault in our military, implementing reforms to the military justice process and increasing the resources and capabilities of Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocates.

"Our National Defense Strategy depends upon a strong, adaptable, and ready force; ensuring a safe environment for the men and women who serve our country is critical to their individual and unit readiness," said Ashish S. Vazirani, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

Vazirani added, to deter and reduce harmful behaviors, the Department is implementing reforms in the military justice system and has established the integrated primary prevention workforce.

"Together, we can increase resilience and readiness across the Force by focusing on creating the appropriate culture to eliminate sexual assault, Vazirani said. "This requires a personal commitment from all of us. Every Service member deserves to serve in a healthy environment and be treated with dignity and respect."

Preventing sexual assault within the military is a key component to Secretary Austin's Taking Care of Our People priority. With the support of Congress, the Department has made significant investments in new prevention and response efforts at a scale never seen before and will continue to advocate for the men and women who serve our country.

"Every member of the Total Force deserves a workplace free of sexual assault, which erodes trust and cohesion within our units," said Elizabeth Foster, executive director of Force Resiliency, "Members of our DoD community should know that we are absolutely committed to getting this right.

If you or someone you know in the DoD community has experienced sexual assault, please consider reaching out to DoD Safe Helpline for 24/7, anonymous, one-on-one support at 877- 995-5247 or

More information on SAAPM and the STEP FORWARD campaign can be found at

More information about the new Integrated Primary Prevention Workforce can be found here: