APRIL 21, 2015, MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va – Major Gen. Mark A. Brilakis, commanding general, Marine Corps Recruiting Command, recently addressed his Marines, sailors and civilians and left them with a simple, but stern message: “Sexual assault has no place in our Corps, and if found guilty of this crime, your career will end.”
While awareness of sexual assault is a year-round effort, the command took advantage of making a presentation April 20, with April being the nation’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. The stand-down gave Brilakis a chance to connect with the members of MCRC face-to-face, making the message more personal. The goal is to eliminate sexual assault within our ranks.
“Our most critical aspect for eliminating sexual assault is our focus on prevention,” said Brilakis. “The strongest assets in this approach are decisive, engaged leadership and the courage to act when you sense something is wrong.”
During SAAPM, one of the primary goals of Sherry Yetter, MCRC Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, is to shine more light on the Safe Helpline. It is a toll-free number sexual assault survivors can access 24-hours 7-days a week worldwide to get help. Since its launch in 2011, Safe Helpline has helped thousands of sexual assault survivors in the DoD community take the first steps towards recovery. Safe Helpline is available for active duty, National Guard, reserve component, Coast Guard and transitioning service members.
“The DoD Safe Helpline has to be considered one of the top military-related added value resources,” said Yetter. “The Helpline provides individuals with the information they need, assisting that person with making informed decisions, and providing the resources needed.”
According to data released by the DoD and the Rand Corporation, incidents of unwanted sexual contact have decreased among female Marines from 10.1 percent to 8.44 percent from fiscal year 2012 to FY 2014.
“Enhanced training and increased emphasis on response protocols play a vital role in reducing these incidents,” said Sgt. Maj. Samuel Heyward Jr., Sgt. Maj., MCRC. “However, the most critical aspect is prevention. The strongest assets in this approach are decisive, engaged leadership and the courage to act when you sense something is wrong.”