WASHINGTON, D.C. — Airmen gathered in the Pentagon with the Air Force top leaders on April 20 for a “chalk walk” to raise awareness about sexual assault.
As Airmen began to collect in the hallway, which was covered with paintings of previous Air Force leaders, there was something different. On the floor in the center of the corridor was a line of posters Airmen had made.
Written on the posters were messages like: “It’s all on us,” “No means no,” “Airmen take care of other Airmen” — and they were only a few of the many that stood out to Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James.
“Today marks near the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but it is certainly not the end of the crusade, the work goes on,” James said. “We have Air Force bases and installations all over the place that are highlighting our commitment to ending sexual assault.”
She went on to say the Air Force has made progress with reports being up and prevalence being down.
“Our sexual assault response coordinators, victim’s advocates and special victims council are providing leading-edge care to our survivors,” James said. “All of that is great, but none of it is good enough. There is a lot more to be done. The work goes on, and together we are going to get there.”
Both James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III stressed that this is a round-the-clock commitment.
“Today is about reminding ourselves to continue to value each and every individual and their right to live in an environment that values diversity, inclusion, respect and the contribution of every single person who serves our Air Force,” Welsh said. “And it’s their absolute right to an environment free from harassment or assault of any kind. It’s a 24/7, 365 commitment to changing this environment where it still exists in our Air Force and absolutely never, ever tolerating it. That’s why we’re here.”
As things came to a close, every person in the hallway linked arms and had a moment of silence as a representation of how serious the Air Force is about going forward together.