SARC celebrates two years of prevention, awareness

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Terri Barriere
  • 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office
After two years of active campaigning for sexual assault prevention, the sexual assault response coordinator here took time out of her busy schedule to party. 

A cake cutting ceremony was held today in honor of the SARC's second birthday-- and the program's success. 

Sexual assault response coordinators are a victim's first line of defense after being assaulted, and they manage each installation's sexual assault prevention program. 

Although Holloman did have a prevention program in place prior to 2005, the new SARP program, which makes the SARC a formal position, created victim advocates and added restricted and unrestricted reporting, has only been around for two years. 

"My responsibility is to provide training, prevention programs and community support for sexual assaults," said Ms. Laura Meredith, 49th Fighter Wing SARC. 

Ms. Meredith is also responsible for training the 14 victim advocates currently volunteering at Holloman. 

Victim advocates lend a hand to the SARC by ensuring the appropriate level of care is provided to each victim. They help provide accurate and comprehensive information on available options and resources to the victim, so the victim can make informed decisions about their care and involvement in the investigative and healing processes. 

"It's an important and thriving program (for sexual assault prevention) on base," said 1st Lt. Katherine Maitrejean, volunteer victim advocate. Lieutenant Maitrejean said she volunteered to be a VA because she believes in the work. 

"I am very pleased with the depth of awareness, sensitivity and support that the commanders and first sergeants have shown," said Ms. Meredith. "It's a big change from four years ago." 

Many more people have come forward than who would have in the past and they are getting treatment that may have a lasting positive affect on them she said. 

The program has made such an impact since its inception; the SARC said she doesn't think it'll ever go away. 

"I hope the SARC program will never go away," she said. "Before this program sexual assaults were somewhat swept under the rug. We need to continue being proactive in our prevention and awareness efforts. I spend a lot of time in the units doing training programs because I think it's very important for victims to know where they can go to get help or talk to someone." 

Ms. Meredith said her ultimate goal, of course, is to cut out sexual assaults all together, and while she knows that it will be difficult, we are moving closer to it. 

"Reports increased 65 percent since the program was put into affect in 2004," she said according to DoD statistics. 

According to the SARC, out of those reported, 44 percent of assaults were male against male. 

"It's not just a women's issue, it's a community issue and everyone's responsibility," she said. "It's about people looking after each other more and being more aware. We really stress the wingman concept."