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FORT LEE, Va. -- April is recognized by both civilian and military communities as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

For the Department of Defense, this observance is an opportunity to raise awareness of efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault and to support survivors. This year’s theme is “Shaping a Culture of Trust. Protecting our People Protects Our Mission.”

SAAPM is an opportunity for every service member, Department of the Army Civilian and family member to demonstrate a personal commitment to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment in our culture.

In a joint statement, Secretary of the Army Mark Esper and Chief of Staff of the Army General Mark Milley said, “Across the Total Army, we continue to focus on eradicating sexual harassment and sexual assault from our ranks.” To that end, we all have a responsibility to take care of each other and not be a bystander. The expression “If you see something, say something” must be part of our daily routine to ensure that perpetrators of sexual violence are held accountable and victims are protected without fear of retaliation.

Fort Lee and the Combined Arms Support Command will kick off the installation’s SAAPM observances with a proclamation signing on April 1, 1130 a.m., in the CASCOM Café. The purpose of the proclamation is to visibly pledge our commitment to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment.

In addition to the proclamation signing, units and organizations will have their own SAAPM events throughout the month. I encourage you to contact your unit sexual assault response coordinator and victim advocate for additional information about planned SAAPM events. Remember, “Don’t be a bystander!”

The phrase bystander is applicable to SHARP and suicide prevention. When it comes to suicides, we have a leading role to be responsible, protective and caring for our most vulnerable teammates. Across the command, we must be attentive to preventing suicide and remain vigilant for signs of individuals facing a life crisis.

Last year, suicides rose by 18 percent across the regular Army. We can do better by ensuring our peers, subordinates and even leaders are getting the help they need. Be aware of those around you and look for indicators of suicide. NCOs are on the front line when it comes to looking out for their Soldiers. I am asking them to know their people; to know what their living conditions are; and to get them the assistance and care they deserve whether it’s medical, mental or spiritual help.

Make sure those for which you are responsible are not taking unnecessary risks in the execution of their duties or their off-duty time. We can always do more to prevent unnecessary accidents by using the risk management process. Leaders at the execution level are in the best position to identify those hazards to which our Soldiers are exposed and come up with appropriate and effective control measures.

Every one of you is a valued member of our team; we cannot accomplish our mission without you.

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