DAFB Holds "Stand Down" Day to Address Military Sexual Assault E - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DAFB Holds "Stand Down" Day to Address Military Sexual Assault Epidemic

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Top brass at Dover Air Force Base is bringing a strong message to airmen - sexual assault is not acceptable. The growing problem of sexual assault in the ranks is a major problem for America's military.

A report released last month showed the crime was reaching epidemic proportions. It estimated there had been 26,000 sexual assaults in the military last year. The vast majority of those went unreported.

DAFB had 51 reported sexual assaults between 2005 and 2012. The base spent Friday addressing the problem.

DAFB had what's called a "stand down" day. Most of the airmen and women took a break from their regular jobs to discuss sexual assault. It's something the air force wants to people to see it addressing - to try to change public perception. So, WBOC was invited on base to check it out.

Throughout the day wing commander Col. Richard Moore spoke to full auditoriums on the subject of sexual assault.

"This is a problem we've got to get in front of. Just providing victim care is not enough," Col. Moore said. "We've got to stop having victims."

Sexual assault response coordinator Lt. Col. Craig Harmon says other parts of the day included airmen meeting in smaller groups.

"We, certainly within the air force, are trying to take ownership of this and take the appropriate steps and set the tone and provide the education that's necessary," said Lt. Col. Harmon.

"It's important the public understand this is something that is important to us," said Moore. "It's something we have recognized as a problem. It's something we're taking action to change."

"I think if they take it seriously enough, it will change," said Sarah Saunders, a student at Wesley College. "A lot of things will change. They just have to go for it."

"They have to do something," Glenn Wright, of Dover, said. "Whether what they're doing here is going to work is questionable."

Harmon says taking a full day out sets a tone. But Moore says DAFB's focus on the problem has to extend further than one day.

"This is not something we'll be to declare victory on any time in the near future. We have to continue to work on this. It will require our attention for the long haul."

Moore says that means creating a climate and culture on base of dignity and respect.

Friday's event was part of a requirement directly from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Hagel ordered every base to have a similar "stand-down" day before July 1 to talk about sexual abuse.

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