Va. Guard hosts inaugural Sexual Assault Awareness Summit

Command Sgt. Maj. Henry A. Motley welcomes representatives from state, local and military organizations Jan. 8 for the inaugural Virginia National Guard Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Awareness Summit in Sandston, Va. The event aimed to bring together experts in the topic of sexual assault and domestic violence prevention and to educate all participants on the roles the various organizations play in both the prevention and treatment of sexual assault. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. –The Virginia Guard gathered representatives from state, local and military organizations to discuss the goals of each organization and how they might work together to help survivors of sexual assault during the inaugural Virginia National Guard Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Awareness Summit, held Jan. 8 at the Mullins Readiness Center in Sandston, Va.

“As we planned this summit, the goal in mind was to develop a sense of community, partnership, and an understanding between the military and civilian communities to give the best treatment to our survivors, both military and civilian,” explained Kimberly Cullen, the Virginia Guard’s alternate sexual assault response coordinator. “We wanted to gather all of our local and state resources in one room to meet face to face for partnership and fellowship.”

“We want this to be a stepping stone toward building something good to take care of, not just Virginia National Guardsmen, but everyone,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Henry A. Motley, Virginia Joint Force Headquarters state sexual assault response coordinator.

Collaborating with other organizations allows for more effective response and aid to survivors of sexual assault, according to Col. Thomas Morgan, the director of manpower and personnel for the Virginia National Guard. “An understanding of the components and limitations of all the programs available allow for each attendee to contribute a more comprehensive response with few or no gaps in the services provided,” Morgan said. “The sharing of their lessons learned and capabilities allows for all our Guard members and families to receive the necessary assistance regardless of their status.”

Along with representatives from various Virginia National Guard agencies, representatives from organizations such as the Virginia Department of Health, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Virginia Department of Corrections, and the Department of Defense Safe Helpline attended the summit. Representatives from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps were also on hand, as were representatives from local women’s shelters.

“What you do is very important and it’s very near and dear to my heart,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis A. Green, the Virginia National Guard’s senior enlisted leader. Green worked within the public school system for many years and gained first hand experience working with victims of sexual assault. He took time to share the story of a young girl, impregnated by her father, and the impact her story had on him. “The good news is people like you – who do the counseling, the talking, the assisting,” Green said to the summit participants. “All of us have something we can add to help the people in our society.”

Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, welcomed the group and expressed pride in Virginia’s sexual assault awareness and prevention program. “In Virginia, I think we have a pretty good program,” he said. “My disappointment with it is that we have to it at all. It’s good to have you all here. Thanks so much for what you do.”

The Virginia Guard’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response team looks forward to hosting additional summits in the future to continue strengthening the relationships forged at the first summit and hopes to continue working together to educate both military members and civilians on sexual assault prevention and response. The goal is “a united front from both military and civilian communities as well as encouragement and support for survivors,” according to Cullen.

If you or someone you know is in the National Guard and has been sexually assaulted, on or off duty, call 877-995-5247 for the DoD Safe Helpline or 434-294-4669 to speak to the Virginia National Guard’s sexual assault response coordinator.

More on this event:

Photos: Virginia Guard hosts inaugural Sexual Assault Awareness Summit – Jan. 8, 2012

Virginia National Guard Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program (Facebook)