Kentucky promotes sexual assault awareness month

By Charles Lay, Kentucky National Guard Victim Advocate Coordinator

Sgt. 1st Class Darrell Brookins is presented with the Kentucky Guard's Victim Advocate of the Year Award by Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton in Frankfort, Ky., March 31, 2016. The award was presented as part of Kentucky's kick-off of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Sgt. 1st Class Darrell Brookins is presented with the Kentucky Guard’s Victim Advocate of the Year Award by Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton in Frankfort, Ky., March 31, 2016. The award was presented as part of Kentucky’s kick-off of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

The Kentucky National Guard kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) in a big way by partnering with the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs (KASAP) to plan and execute the Kentucky Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) kickoff events held on March 31, 2016 at the Capitol Rotunda.

The kickoff started with the reading of the SAAM Proclamation and presentation of awards recognizing various individuals and agencies for their efforts in eliminating sexual assaults and providing services to survivors around the state.  Governor Matt Bevin, Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton, and Attorney General Andy Beshear were among those attending the event.

The Kentucky National Guard was well represented with close to 50 military personnel and civilian staff members in attendance. Col. Michael Abell recognized Sgt. 1st Class Darrell Brookins as the winner of the inaugural Kentucky National Guard Charles R. Lay Victim Advocate of the Year Award for his superior performance and contributions in the areas of sexual assault prevention and awareness while serving as a Victim Advocate for the 198th Military Police Battalion. Brookins was also awarded the title of Kentucky Colonel by the office of the Secretary of the State.

The SAAM kickoff events continued that evening at the Capital Plaza Hotel with the SAAM Awards Banquet. This event was attended by over 120 people from around the state, there to support those that received SAAM awards for their efforts. During this dinner Maj. John Harvey spoke about Brookins and his accomplishments presenting him with the 2016 Victim Advocate of the Year award.

“Soldiers and Airmen of the Kentucky National Guard understand the importance of looking out for their buddy and eliminating sexual assault,” said Harvey. “And no Kentucky Guardsman has worked harder this year to eliminate sexual assault than Sgt. 1st Class Brookins.”

SAAM and SAAPM continues through the end of April, but the fight against sexual violence continues year round. If you haven’t had the opportunity to get involved in any events in your unit or your community, you still have time.  There are lots of ways to get involved in eliminating sexual violence from our military and our society with the easiest being too get involved in stopping the language and behaviors that denigrate members of either gender, especially women, and that lead to sexual harassment or sexual assault.

We should all work toward achieving a society that is intolerant toward those that perpetuate sexual violence in any of its many forms, and support those that have been subjected to sexual violence at any time during their life. Contact your local Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Victim Advocate, or Rape Crisis Center at any time to learn ways that you can get involved in the fight to eliminate sexual violence, or to get services for a sexual assault that has occurred against you or someone you know.

About sraymond