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Yokota Air Base observes SAAPM with ice cream social, bowling, more

Yokota Air Base observes SAAPM with ice cream social, bowling, more

Robert Whitaker, 374th Airlift Wing sexual assault response coordinator, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicole Rodriguez, volunteer victim advocate, chat with a Yokota resident at Yokota Air Base, Japan, April 7, 2021. Yokota’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office teamed up with the Yokota United Service Organizations to kick off National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month with free swag and ice cream in front of the Yokota Community Center. SAAPM is observed every year during the month of April. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Sampson)

Yokota Air Base observes SAAPM with ice cream social, bowling, more

Yokota residents take advantage of free swag and ice cream in front of the Yokota Community Center at Yokota Air Base, Japan, April 7, 2021. Yokota’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office teamed up with the Yokota United Service Organizations to kick off National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, which is observed every year during the month of April. The Department of Defense observes SAAPM by focusing on creating the appropriate culture to eliminate sexual assault and requires all Service members to make a personal commitment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Sampson)

Yokota Air Base observes SAAPM with ice cream social, bowling, more

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicole Rodriguez, volunteer victim advocate, offers Sexual Assault Awareness and Response promotional items to Glynis Martin, Yokota commissary head bagger, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, April 7, 2021. Yokota’s SAPR office teamed up with the Yokota United Service Organizations to kick off National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month with free swag and ice cream in front of the Yokota Community Center. SAAPM is observed every year during the month of April. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Sampson)

Yokota Air Base observes SAAPM with ice cream social, bowling, more

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicole Rodriguez, right, volunteer victim advocate, offers U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Asia Tucker, left, 374th Surgical Operations Squadron radiology flight chief, free swag and ice cream at Yokota Air Base, Japan, April 7, 2021. Yokota’s SAPR office teamed up with the Yokota United Service Organizations to kick off National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month with free swag and ice cream in front of the Yokota Community Center. SAAPM is observed every year during the month of April. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Sampson)

Yokota Air Base, Japan --

Yokota’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month with an information table and ice cream social on April 7 outside the Yokota Community Center.

SAAPM is observed nationally during the month of April. The Department of Defense’s 2021 theme is “Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission.”

One key takeaway SAPR hopes to drive home this month, and every month, is that help is always available.

“You are not alone,” said Staff Sgt. Nicole Rodriguez, volunteer victim advocate. “There are resources out there for you and you have friends, families, all these resources willing to work with you and get you through the tough times.”

As a prevention training opportunity, the Yokota SAPR office is virtually hosting guest speaker and trauma expert Myra Strand on April 12. Her training –“Men Too. The Pain Behind the Masc(ulinity)”- will be offered during two sessions, one at 10 a.m. and another at 2 p.m.

 “One of the last things I want is for men to feel marginalized and for men to feel like there's no support for them,” said Robert Whitaker, 374th Airlift Wing sexual assault response coordinator. “We want men to know that this program is here to assist them as well.” 

SAPR will send a base-wide email with login information closer to the date.

They are also offering discounted bowling on Friday, April 23, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the base bowling alley.

For the final event of the month, the SAPR office invites the Yokota community to unofficially observe Denim Day on April 28. Those who do not have to wear a uniform, or other form of dress code, are encouraged to wear jeans in solidarity against the idea that a sexual assault can be attributed to, or is because of, the clothing a person wears.

According to the Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2019 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, the military received 7,825 reports of sexual assault in FY19, which was a three percent increase from FY18.

"Sexual assault and harassment remain persistent and corrosive problems across the total force," wrote Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III in a Feb. 26 memorandum to Defense Department leaders. "I expect every member of our total force to be part of the solution and leaders — both civilian and military — across the Department to take direct accountability to drive meaningful change."

It takes more than just awareness about a problem to create change, Whitaker said. 

“Awareness about a problem is great,” said Whitaker, “but at the same time, we want to make sure that we are doing things in order to prevent it from happening in the first place.”

Yokota SAPR is on-call 24/7, 365 days a year, and can be reached by DSN at 225-7272 or cell at 090-3138-7250.