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sm140408 Z EJ222 017With Sexual Assault Awareness Month drawing to a close, the Wisconsin National Guard unveiled a report on its efforts over the past two years to stamp out sexual assault from its formations.

Among the highlights were a series of visits in summer 2013 by the Wisconsin National Guard’s senior leaders to every unit in the state to stress the organization’s intolerance for sexual assault and to explain how the Guard responds to reported cases of assault.

In late 2013, Wisconsin became the first state to create a team of legal advisors, known as special victims counsel, who represent victims of sexual assault through the investigation and prosecution phases of the cases. The Guard also worked with the Wisconsin State Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker signed into law an update to the Wisconsin Code of Military Justice’s definition of sexual assault. Wisconsin became the first state to amend its state code specifically to provide an enhanced Sexual Assault Punitive Article, Article 120.

The recently released report also outlines collaborate initiatives, including information about “Falcon,” a PTSD service dog affiliated with Wisconsin’s Joint Force Headquarters Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office in Madison.

“While we have not eliminated sexual assault and have more work to do, we have made significant strides, we have increased reporting and are providing valuable services to the victims of sexual assault,” Wisconsin Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar wrote in the report. “We are steadily moving toward an environment that eliminates the ‘bystander’ mentality and empowers all Soldiers, Airmen and employees to intervene at the first sign of potential sexual assault.”

The Wisconsin National Guard coordinates its efforts to prevent, respond and investigate sexual assault crimes through the organization’s sexual assault response coordinator (SARC) who works as the focal point for all allegations of sexual assault. The SARC became a full-time position in Wisconsin in 2008, and in 2013, the Guard added a second employee in its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office – a full-time victim advocate. More than 100 Soldiers and Airmen assigned at the Guard’s various Army units and Air Force wings also hold victim advocate status.

“We can all be very proud of the progress illustrated in the report,” Capt. Robert Brania, the Wisconsin National Guard’s SARC said. “But we cannot mistake progress for success. Fortunately our leadership remains committed to keeping this issue a top priority.”