About 800 fewer Active Duty airmen experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact in Fiscal 2014 than they did in 2012. However, reports of sexual assaults across the Defense Department are on the rise, according to new data released by the Pentagon. “The increase in the reporting shows us that victims are more comfortable coming forward, and believe they will get the services they need to recover from the trauma” said Maj. Gen. Gina Grosso, the director of Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. The surveys, conducted by RAND Corp., showed that the Air Force has the lowest incidents of unwanted sexual contact across all DOD Active Duty components, with 2.9 percent of women and .29 percent of men reporting any type of sexual assault in the past year. This is significantly lower than the DOD average of 4.87 percent of women and .95 percent of men. Air Force officials cited a cultural shift across the service for the low numbers, noting that enlisted leadership is key in facilitating a culture of trust and support for victims. Grosso said a review of climate assessment data in the Survivor Experience Survey shows airmen have “an incredibly strong confidence in their commanders. I was shocked at how confident, frankly, airmen feel in their commanders,” she said. (AFNS report.) (RAND top line estimates for sexual assault, harassment in the US military.)
Changes are coming this year for Airmen taking professional military education (PME) distance learning courses. Closer interactions with facilitators, a revised capstone course, and more feedback on test performance are meant to improve the overall experience for distance learning students, who often include members of the Air National Guard.