To the Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard
Seventy-three seconds—that’s how frequently experts estimate that someone is sexually assaulted in the United States of America. The victims are men, women, and children. They may be at home, at work, with a relative, or at school. The specifics of each attack are different, but the unconscionable abuse of power is constant.
Our Armed Forces are no exception. Every year, hundreds of our National Guard service members report rape, assault, and harassment in our ranks. It is the tragic and infuriating outcome of diminished leadership, breakdowns in good order and discipline, and the inexcusable acceptance of abusive and toxic behavior. Sexual assault and the climate that surrounds it irreparably damages our unit cohesion, making us less able to do our jobs and protect the American people. It is not only legally and morally wrong; it is a threat to our military readiness.
April is Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Month, but too many of our fellow Soldiers and Airmen are all too aware of the effects of sexual assault in their jobs and in their lives. They are survivors of sexual violence who deserve support and understanding, and we are committed to ensuring they have access to the assistance they need.
If you need to reach the Department of Defense Safe Helpline—which provides sexual assault support for the military community—visit safehelpline.org or call 877-995-5247. They can help you report an assault, contact your local Sexual Assault Response Coordinator or Victim Advocate, and access sexual assault response services.
The National Guard will not tolerate sexual assault. Together, we must prevent sexual assault from tearing our units apart. We must hold offenders accountable. We must foster a culture where respect and dignity—not violence and abuse of power—are the standard. And we must care for and support sexual assault victims if our prevention efforts fail. Only with your support can we build a National Guard that stands for safety, dignity, justice, and respect.
Daniel R. Hokanson
General, U.S. Army
Chief, National Guard Bureau