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171st Air Refueling Wing Observes Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

Graphic for association with news story titled 171st Air Refueling Wing Observes Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month created June 5, 2021. (U.S. Air National Guard Graphic Illustration by Senior Master Sgt. Shawn Monk)

Graphic for association with news story titled 171st Air Refueling Wing Observes Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month created June 5, 2021. (U.S. Air National Guard Graphic Illustration by Senior Master Sgt. Shawn Monk)

CORAOPOLIS, Pa. --

The 171st Air Refueling Wing observed Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month with a mission to educate service members on prevention and intervention, April 2021.

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month is a nationally recognized campaign that takes place each April to raise awareness by focusing on creating cultures and environments that can help eliminate sexual assault.

“The 171st is committed to protecting our people. We are proud of our efforts and will continue to increase awareness,” said Col. Ray Hyland, commander of the 171st ARW.

The campaign at the 171st ARW was facilitated by Mr. Kirk Simpson, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program manager.

“We want prevention and awareness every month. Dedicating the month of April allows us to really focus and go above and beyond educating people. The more time you have is more time to bring people to you and more opportunities to spread the message,” said Simpson.

The 171st ARW provided informational marquees and fliers along with educational table exhibits that displayed different resources at the local, state and national levels. Simpson’s team created newsletters, briefings and videos to push awareness forward to the forefront of everyone’s minds.

“You want people to have this information as second nature,” said Simpson. “You get this through awareness by exposure. You get people to better recognize red flags and more awareness causes people to feel emboldened and empowered to step up and do the right thing.”

Along with the sexual assault prevention and response program manager, the base also utilizes volunteer victim advocates to bring awareness.

“The victim advocates play a vital role in planning and coordinating activities as well as training and answer questions. They are an invaluable asset to this office,” said Simpson.

Simpson also explained how his job is to be proactive. He related this proactive approach to unit cohesion.

“We need trust and loyalty to be effective,” said Simpson. “That comes from treating each other with dignity and respect.”