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JBSA-Fort Sam Houston hosts Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Summit

By Lauren Padden | U.S. Army North Public Affairs | April 22, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) commanding general, and senior leaders from the Joint Base San Antonio community hosted the 3rd Annual Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP)/Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Summit at the Fort Sam Houston Community Center April 3 to discuss current topics in sexual assault awareness and prevention.

"Media coverage and societal awareness of sexual harassment and sexual assault have soared this past year as a result of misconduct charges sweeping across media, entertainment and other industries," said Jodie Garrett, Army North SHARP program manager.

The event helped command teams across JBSA and sexual assault first responders to gain a better understanding of sexual assault trends and gain knowledge from subject matter experts.

Speaking at the event was Mary Lauterbach, mother to Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, a Marine who was raped and murdered at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in 2007. Lauterbach now serves as a national advocate for victims in the military. She shared her daughter’s story, the factors that went wrong from the time of her reporting the rape, to her murder, as well as the key takeaways.

“It is worth remembering that our system of justice is beautifully designed,” Lauterbach said. “It is very important that there is a presumption of innocence when someone is accused. But when someone does make an accusation, they deserve to be protected. We owe it to the people reporting to protect them and keep them safe.”

It is through stories like that of Lauterbach’s daughter that the military can learn and grow, improve practices and change the culture of sexual assault awareness.

Speaking nest was Russell and Myra Strand, who co-presented “Strand Squared: A Paradigm Shift” and spoke on topics like culture change, sex offenders and online dating.

Russell Strand stressed we have to look at the culture we live in.

“Service members are more likely to be sexually assaulted by another service member than killed or wounded by a foreign enemy,” he said. “And that’s just our stark reality. So the roadmap to change is this: culture change.”

He emphasized the evolving nature of SHARP/SAPR training, years ago it focused just on skills but it has changed to build the need and desire to change. Only after innate need and desire for change can you see culture change.

“We can’t take these problems and solve them if we don’t acknowledge them and try to really understand what’s really going on,” Buchanan said.

To emphasize that point, the general and other senior leaders from Joint Base San Antonio signed the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Proclamation. The proclamation pledges the senior leaders commit to work together to educate our community about supporting survivors and standing against harmful attitudes and actions.

At the end of the ceremony, the Shelley Botello Compassionate Servant Award was presented to Sayama Turner, 502nd Air Base Wing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Student Development Program director. First responders Sandra Hocking, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade and Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Mendoza De Saenz, Navy Medicine Education, Training and Logistics Command, were also recognized during the ceremony.

The JBSA SAPR hotline number is 210-808-7272. The other JBSA numbers are 210-808-8990 for JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, 210-671-7273 for JBSA-Lackland, and 210-652-4386 for JBSA-Randolph. Soldiers can call 210-221-0598, while Navy personnel can call 210-221-1496.