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NEWS | Aug. 16, 2022

AKNG, Providence unite to better support sexual assault victims

By 1st Lt. Balinda O’Neal , Alaska National Guard Public Affairs

The Alaska National Guard’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program renewed its partnership with the Forensic Nursing Services of Providence August 3, 2022 by signing a revised memorandum of understanding intended to better serve victims of sexual assault, their families and the entire AKNG community. 
 
According to Ashley Shelton, the AKNG Joint Forces Headquarters SAPR officer and Lead Sexual Assault Response coordinator, these types of support agreements expire every nine years and have to be updated to remain current.
 
“There have been a lot of changes made to Department of Defense policy in the last nine years, and a lot of the change specifically impacts the National Guard,” she said. 
 
Changes include an extension of services to Alaska Guardsmen and their dependents 18 and older.  Additionally, the agreement extends services to Title 5 and Title 32 federal civilian employees, and their adult dependents. The revised agreement also emphasizes information sharing to ensure a better understanding of each agency’s resources.
 
“We wanted to make sure we captured everybody who is eligible for services,” said Shelton. “Making sure the victims of sexual assault get all the care and services that are possible to them is significant to both of our organizations.”
 
The collaboration supports victims during the medical forensic process and allows the AKNG SARC or Victim Advocate to coordinate with FNSP at the victim’s request.
 
“SARCs and Victim Advocates for the AKNG recognize the interests of the victim as our primary responsibility,” said Shelton. “We seek to empower victims in their healing journey by treating them with dignity and respect, and responding compassionately to each victim with personalized services.”
 
Personalized services may include information about military and civilian helping agencies such as counseling or legal resources. Shelton said that this is in addition to the services victims may receive from FNSP.
 
“FNSP collaborates with the AKNG to ensure their members who have experienced sexual violence have access to immediate, comprehensive medical forensic examinations, treatment, and referrals to improve their safety, health and well-being,” said Tara Henry, FNSP assistant clinical manager, explaining that the organization provides compassionate, holistic, trauma-informed forensic nursing care to adolescents and adults who have experienced physical or sexual violence, neglect, or intentional injury.
 
“At the same time when the FNSP identifies a victim eligible for SAPR services that is unbeknown to the AKNG, they can direct them to the SARC or VA at their request,” said Shelton.
 
The FNSP has partnered with Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and the Air and Army National Guard since Providence Alaska Medical Center assumed operations of Forensic Nursing Services in 2007.
 
With a review every three years, the MOU continues to help foster the relationship between the agencies as they work together to provide the best quality care to the AKNG community.
 
“FNSP appreciates the Alaska National Guard’s efforts to ensure their members receive victim-centered support and healthcare after experiencing sexual violence,” said Henry. “In addition, receiving a medical forensic examination by a forensic nurse specialist can improve justice outcomes for those victims of violence who choose to participate in the criminal justice process after a sexual assault.”
 
For additional information on the AKNG SAPR program, check out their website at https://ak.ng.mil/Resources/Warrior-and-Family-Services/Sexual-Assault-and-Harassment-Prevention-and-Response/ and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AKNGSAPR/.
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