The Air Force has extended more sexual assault prevention and response services to civilians, service Secretary Deborah Lee James said Aug. 24. Previously, only service members and civilian employees stationed outside of the United States had access to sexual assault response coordinators (SARCs), and civilians could only file unrestricted reports. Now, civilians can get crisis intervention and advocacy services from SARCs and victim advocates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, no matter where they are stationed, according to an Air Force news release. SARCs and victim advocates can help call the right law enforcement agency if a victim chooses to file an unrestricted report, and can help find off-base support services, if necessary. The DOD approved the change for one year to assess whether to make it permanent, and civilians who work for other services will not be affected. Air Force civilians still cannot receive legal and non-emergency medical services, which are restricted by law. “We knew we could do more to help our civilian airmen, so we sought an exception to policy to allow the Air Force to extend the same care and support to civilian victims as we do to our military airmen and their families,” said Maj. Gen. Gina Grosso, the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention and response director. (See also Breaking the Sexual Assault Stalemate from the July 2014 issue of Air Force Magazine.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.