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Immediate Release

Commitment to Helping Sexual Assault Victims Earns Honors

 The Defense Department has honored six exceptional sexual assault response coordinators as part of April’s observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.


These service members and Defense Department civilians are being recognized for their outstanding efforts in assisting victims of sexual assault and for their commitment to preventing this crime, officials said.


“The 2016 exceptional SARCs deserve recognition for their professional abilities and service on the front lines and for the quality care they provide for victims of sexual assault,” said Army Maj. Gen. Camille M. Nichols, director of the DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. “I am privileged to work with such dedicated and compassionate individuals who continue to strengthen the department’s prevention and response efforts.”  


More than 20,000 sexual assault response coordinators throughout the Defense Department and the Coast Guard, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, have received professional training and certification through the DoD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program.


They serve as the single point of contact for integrating and coordinating sexual assault victim care, from the initial report of sexual assault through disposition and resolution of issues related to the victim's health and well-being. The SARC is responsible for ensuring a victim support system is in place that provides around-the-clock sexual assault response capabilities for all victims within their designated area of responsibility.


This year’s Exceptional SARC awardees are:


U.S. Army: Sgt. First Class Raquel R. Mendoza, recognized for her development of unique training approaches to include military and civilian community. She also developed a mentorship program tailored to victims and implemented the "Charge of Quarters" (CG) triage decision tree, which has been institutionalized across the Army SHARP program.


U.S. Navy: Deborah Drucker, recognized for developing unprecedented training approach with uncharacteristic candor and active student participation which specifically addressed two of the greatest issues the Navy is facing: the culture shift to accommodate female crew members on submarines and, second, the long held stereotype that sexual assault applies to male-on-female situations only.


U.S. Marine Corps: Jacqueline M. Maxwell, recognized for her innovative teaching techniques which included SAPR resource game, SAPR crossword puzzle, and SAPR trivia game all developed to reinforce the learning objectives. She also co-chaired and facilitated the first NAS Corpus Christi "Proclamation of Support" where nine commanders committed to support efforts for prevention of sexual assault.


U.S. Air Force: Capt. Elizabeth Belleau, along with various outreach initiatives, she is also being recognized for establishing evacuation procedures for victims requesting a forensic exam at locations without a certified provider.  She also adapted provider pre-deployment training requirements, limiting the medical airlift need for sexual assault victims, saving evacuation costs, preserving forensic evidence and improving victim care.


National Guard Bureau: Sgt. First Class Melinda Heikkinen, recognized for not only for her trustworthy advocacy but also  provided training to raise awareness of sexual harassment and sexual assault which spanned over 3,000 miles across the state ensuring the widest dissemination of information to soldier's, family members, and civilians.


U.S. Coast Guard: Simone Hall is recognized for providing superior support to over 6500 military and civilian employees. She improved the quality of SAPR training that were aligned with the commandant's vision of "Not in My Coast Guard" and was instrumental in establishing a satellite office at USCG Telecommunication and Information Systems Command (TISCOM) Base in Alexandria, Virginia, which ensured the immediate delivery of SAPR services to CG personnel assigned in the region. 


Since 2009, the Defense Department has annually recognized exceptional sexual assault response coordinators for providing noteworthy care and support in prevention and response efforts to military victims of sexual assault.


The awards are presented to the winners by their respective commands in conjunction with April’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Nominees were submitted by each of the four services, the Coast Guard, and the National Guard Bureau from within their ranks.  


Related Links:


DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office


Special Report: Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention