SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - The Ohio National Guard is seeing an increase in the number of sexual assault cases reported, from four last federal fiscal year to 13 with two more months remaining in the current year, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
The Springfield News-Sun reported that the commander of the Springfield Air National Guard Base's 178th Fighter Wing said the increase does not necessarily mean a rise in the number of assaults. Col. Gregory Schnulo attributed the triple-fold jump to personnel feeling more comfortable reporting the crime.
Still, he said, the numbers are a concern.
"The numbers don't lie. There's something going on," Schnulo said.
Guard members are required to take a course every year that reassures them it's OK to report an assault. But to address the rising statistic, about 1,000 full-time guard members will undergo sexual assault prevention training July 26. Even those on a flying mission outside the U.S. might return to the country to attend the training, Schnulo said.
"This is our priority right now," he said. "We're going to shut everything down to talk about sexual assaults."
The Ohio Guard has nearly 140 victim advocates to help personnel. That number is expected to grow by as many as 40 in September, said Capt. Matthew Martling, the Guard's sexual assault response coordinator.