April Is Sexual Assault Awareness Month; Illinois National Guard Program Teaches Prevention While Teaching Response Techniques

SPRINGFIELD, IL (04/03/2012)(readMedia)-- In a recent episode of ABC's Private Practice, a Soldier returning from Afghanistan was forced to deal with events that occurred while he was deployed overseas. After the fictional character attempted suicide, it is evident more aggressive methods of treatment are needed to help the Soldier who is trying to cope with returning to civilian life, as well as a sexual assault that occurred overseas.

In real life, sexual assault within the ranks of the military is not a new problem. It is, however, a problem that has made it necessary for the military to conduct its own annual reporting on the crisis.

"Illinois was one of the first states to take the situation seriously and hire a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) full-time to address and implement the state's program," said Master Sgt. Christy Sipes of Rushville, who was the first SARC the Illinois National Guard hired full-time to manage the program. "It has evolved rapidly over the past five years, but the message remains that sexual assault is an important topic that commanders must address."

In 2011, there were 160 reports of sexual assault in the National Guard. In Illinois there were eight sexual assaults and two sexual harassment cases reported. Although assaults mostly occur while Soldiers are in non-duty status, victims assaulted during deployments often report the incident upon returning to their home state.

Since the inception of the sexual assault programs in 2005, the Illinois National Guard responded to 29 reported incidents of sexual assaults. Some of the incidents occurred prior to the Soldier joining or transferring in the Illinois National Guard.

"People are coming forward knowing their chain of command will have their backs," said Kim Schaefle of Warrenville, the assistant sexual assault response coordinator with the Illinois National Guard. "Sexual assault prevention has become a major priority for the Illinois National Guard."

While there are no easy ways to deal with the trauma of sexual assault, there are many resources available throughout the military, and more are being developed to insure the victim is protected and assisted in recovery.

The National Guard is in a unique position because most of the reported assaults did not take place during duty hours, therefore not providing the program any latitude for proper reporting, said Sipes. Illinois is a victim supportive state with many programs available to victims of violent crime, which is a tool that is frequently used. Illinois is fortunate to have these programs to help offset the cost of lost wages and clothing during an assault. The clothes and items become evidence and therefore the person loses them, Sipes added.

All Soldiers have to complete Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention training annually. The Illinois Army National Guard is leading the nation in training compliance.

"Our main goal in this annual class is to let the Soldiers know about the reporting options that are available to them if they are a victim of sexual assault," said Sgt Maj. Diane S. Rogers of Girard, Illinois Army National Guard's SARC. "The two options are restricted and unrestricted reporting. Most do not know that they have an option."

The Illinois National Guard is a microcosm of society. Although the military is typically held to a higher standard, assaults occur in the military ranks just like they do in the civilian sector. The Illinois National Guard has made it a priority to make sure assistance is available for victims.

"We also want the Soldier to know that there is help for them if they are a victim of sexual assault," Rogers said. "The SARCs and Unit Victim Advocates and Chaplains are here for them."

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and commits to raising awareness and promoting the prevention of sexual violence through use of special events and public education.

"This is an issue that must not be limited to one month a year," Rogers said. "It is an ongoing problem that must get better and it is up to everyone in the military to make sure they are doing their part to prevent, report and support."

Photo: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Camacho, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs/ Theresa Duncan a trauma nurse specialist, sexual assault nurse examiner with St. Johns Hospital in Springfield speaks to nearly 70 Soldiers with the Illinois National Guard attending the two week Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention training Feb. 23 at Camp Lincoln in Springfield. The Soldiers met with a panel of sexual assault response experts from the Springfield area.

For high resolution photos, please contact the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office at ngilstaffpao@ng.army.mil

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Soldier Will No Longer Don the Army Uniform, but Continues to Serve the Illinois National Guard

SPRINGFIELD, IL (02/22/2012)(readMedia)-- Retirement can conjure up images of traveling, relaxing or maybe grabbing a fishing pole and heading to the lake, but retired Master Sgt. Kimberly S. Broome, of Chatham, may be beginning her most challenging and important assignment of her career.

Broome, a native of Chicago, officially retired from the Illinois National Guard Dec. 31 and was recently hired by the Department of Military Affairs as the executive assistant to the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard at Camp Lincoln in Springfield. The Adjutant General is the highest position within the Illinois National Guard, responsible for all daily operations of the Illinois National Guard and overseeing its 13,500 men and women in uniform.

"I love working with Soldiers," said Broome. "That is all I have been doing since I graduated from high school. It is like working with family."

Broome said the decision to continue to serve her country in a different capacity was an easy decision.

"Working at Camp Lincoln for the (Adjutant) General is a great honor," said Broome.

The commander of the Illinois National Guard is excited to have Broome working for him.

"With more than two decades in uniform, Kim offers a lot of experience and it's great to see her continue to serve her country and state," said Maj. Gen. William Enyart, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard.

Broome joined the National Guard Sept. 1, 1988 after graduating from high school.

"I wanted to go to college but did not want to burden my parents," said Broome. "I also thought it would be a great way to travel and be able to give back."

During her nearly 24 years of service Broome has served in several different military jobs including human resources specialist, automated logistical specialist, unit supply specialist and patient administration specialist.

Broome deployed as the supply sergeant with the 1244th Transportation Company of North Riverside in 2003 for 18 months to Kuwait. While deployed, Broome earned the Combat Action Badge and the Army Commendation Medal.

Upon her retirement Broome was presented with an honorable discharge, certificates of retirement and service, a certification of appreciation from the President of the United States and a meritorious service medal.

Broome has a 14-year-old-daughter, Maya, who is a freshman in high school.

"One of the many blessings over my 24 year career is the amount of traveling and the many parts of the world I've been able to see; it is priceless," said Broome. "The experience is immeasurable. I am certainly grateful."

Broome said the end of her federal career and beginning of her state career is only the start of something else special.

"As I look back over my military career and all the friends I've made, which essentially has become a part of my family, it's not so much that I'm retiring, I'm just beginning a new chapter," said Broome, "One that will allow me more time to focus on my daughter as she becomes a young lady and prepare her for her future."


SPRINGFIELD, IL (02/04/2012)(readMedia)-- As servicemembers start to receive their W2's in the mail, now is the time to prepare to file your 2011 tax returns and learn what opportunities are available for military members.

"There are many programs at the state and federal levels providing tax credits for members of our military in recognition of their sacrifices for the nation," said Lt. Col. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, Deputy of Human Resources for the Illinois Army National Guard. "It is important that our troops are aware of these benefits and not leave any money on the table when those dollars can be helpful to our families and employers."

If a servicemember is eligible under the Military OneSource program, he/she can complete, save and file their 2011 federal taxes and up to three state tax returns online for free with the H&R Block At Home® tool. To access this free service, use the Military OneSource H&R Block At Home® link. The first step is to log in to Military OneSource (new users will need to create a Military OneSource account). From there, users will be directed to a page with additional information on tax preparation, including a link to the Military OneSource H&R Block At Home® service.

In addition to filing taxes for free, servicemembers can get support from trained tax consultants through Military OneSource. Servicemembers and families can call 1-800-342-9647 and ask to speak with a Military OneSource tax consultant seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Federal tax benefits for hiring many veterans are available to business owners in any state. The federal benefits are available under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) Program. There is up to a $2,400 credit if there is:

• a veteran who is a member of a family that has received food stamps for at least three consecutive months in the 15 months prior to the date of hire

• a person with disability who is participating in a vocational rehabilitation program through U.S. Veteran's Administration

There is also a WOTC credit of up to $4,800 for veterans entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability who:

• were hired within one year of having been discharged, or released from activity duty

• has been unemployed for any six of the last 12 months

Employers hiring multiple WOTC qualified employees can make a significant dent in their federal income taxes. These benefits are explained and claimed on IRS Form 5884.

Currently, 26 states offer partial or total exclusions, from state-level taxes for combat and/or other military compensation paid to servicemembers. There are five states offering outright tax exemption for military pay, including Illinois.

Combat pay received by members of the military serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and other combat zone localities is usually exempt from tax. But under a special rule, servicemembers can choose to count all of this income when he/she figures the Earned Income Tax Credit. In many cases, making this choice will enable the servicemember to claim the credit, or if you are already eligible, claim a larger credit.

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