SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), Kathleen Schofield, was presented the Department of Defense (DoD) SARC of the Year award in a ceremony, April 19.
Rear Adm. Mark Rich, commander Navy Region Northwest, presented the award, which recognizes individuals whose work has been particularly noteworthy and demonstrates outstanding service in support of service members.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (#SAAPM), and this year's theme is "We own it ... we'll solve it ... together".
"I think we've made tremendous strides in what we've done in terms of recognition and education of our Sailors, helping Sailors make smart decisions," said Rich. "Kathleen is a great leader in that aspect, and I want to thank her for that."
According to her citation, Schofield took the helm of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program at NASWI at a time of the most visibility and change in the history of the program. She masterfully implemented top-down changes while thoughtfully accommodating the variables inherent in a rural setting - all in the midst of an unprecedented operational tempo for the electronic attack and patrol/surveillance warfighting communities.
"This is a very serious problem. I think we're making headway although I know there is plenty of work to be done," continued Rich. "With people like Kathleen, I know we'll get it done."
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus wrote in a message to the fleet, "As a community, we seek to help sexual assault victims heal as individuals and succeed in their careers."
"Department of the Navy victim support efforts involve hundreds of sexual assault response coordinators and thousands of victim advocates working under service-operated programs in coordination with medical resources, criminal investigators, legal assistance and command leaders," wrote Mabus.
Schofield coordinated Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) training for more than 5,000 Sailors on board NASWI, ensuring all hands are aware of their role in preventing sexual assault and in assisting victims, and she emphasized the importance of teamwork in putting an end to sexual assault in the Navy.
"The reason why we have this spotlight on the issue right now is because of the courage of the victims to come forward and tell their story," Schofield said. "The core of the program has always been and remains to be the advocates. It takes their collaboration to make this a success."
Help raise awareness by joining the conversation on social media using #SexualAssault and #SAAPM.
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response is an important element of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy and Marine Corps. The Department of the Navy is working to aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, to support sexual assault victims, and to hold offenders accountable.
For more information about crisis support services, visit www.safehelpline.org. Department of Defense (DoD) Safe Helpline is a groundbreaking crisis support service for members of the DoD community affected by sexual assault. Safe Helpline provides live, one-on-one support and information to the worldwide DoD community. The service is confidential, anonymous, secure, and available worldwide, 24/7 by click, call or text - providing victims with the help they need anytime, anywhere.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest, visit www.navy.mil/local/nwpacen/.