EAST GRANBY, CONN— Maj. Katherine Maines, Connecticut National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters Sexual Assault Response Coordinator was awarded the 2014 DOD Exceptional Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Award, April 23.
20,000 U.S. service members were nominated for this award but only six were awarded. One member per military branch received this award and Maines was the award recipient on behalf of the entire National Guard.
“The 2014 exceptional SARCs deserve recognition for their professional abilities and service on the front lines and for the quality care they provide for victims of sexual assault,” said Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow, director of the DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. “I am privileged to work with such dedicated individuals who continue to strengthen the department’s prevention and response efforts.”
The Connecticut National Guard is grateful to the mailman who delivered a U.S. military recruitment postcard to Maines more than a dozen years ago.
“How can you serve your country?” Maines read on the postcard.
The daughter of a World War II bomber pilot, and no stranger to the military, Maines, who worked as a private licensed clinical social worker practitioner, joined the Air Force shortly thereafter.
She eventually brought her career and dedication to public service into the Connecticut Air National Guard and for that, the state of Connecticut has been extremely fortunate.
During her career in the Connecticut Guard, Maines has completely and positively transformed the Guard’s environment and attitude towards sexual assault and harassment.
When Maines became the Connecticut National Guard SARC, there were only three victim advocates in the entire state. Due to her work in enhancing the Connecticut Guard’s victim advocacy program, there are now 80 victim advocates in the Connecticut Army and Air National Guard. .
“Maj. Maines has brought an energy and tenacity to this program that is without equal,” said Maj. Gen. Thaddeus J. Martin, the adjutant general. “We are very proud that her exceptional work on prevention and victim support services has earned this DoD-wide recognition.” .
She is responsible for numerous additional changes which have resulted in a Connecticut military working environment where Soldiers and Airmen who are victimized can acquire the service and support they need, and where offenders can be punished to the fullest extent possible.
Such changes coordinated and facilitated by Maines include:
1. Victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment are now offered help and assistance at every step of their reporting process, through referrals to victim advocacy, Military Support Program counseling services and legal services.
2. Sexual assault prevention training now takes place in every level of the Connecticut Arny National Guard’s Recruit Sustainment Program.
3. Sexual assault/harassment offenders can now expect to suffer long term consequences for assault/harassment offenses: discharges other than honorable and potentially jail time.
4. The Connecticut Guard now has a sexual assault review board.
5. The Connecticut Guard now has a full time victim advocate coordinator.
6. Connecticut State Police are now utilized for SARC training and guidance.
7. The Connecticut Guard SARC program now cross-trains with active duty personnel at the Naval Subase in Groton, Connecticut.
8. The SARC program now works closely with Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services therapist counselors.
9. Offenders will now be tracked and will be unable to transfer freely to out of state Guard units.
10. Victims can be flown, at no charge, from Connecticut anywhere to testify in court against offenders.
11. Children and spouses of Connecticut Guard members who have been victimized can now also receive as much help and support as military service members.
Maines said sexual assaults are committed by one percent of any given population, but that offenders usually commit numerous offenses.
“We will do our best to remove offenders from their units. There is no place in the Connecticut Guard for them,” she said. “If a person has one piece of dirt on them, they are dirty.”
Maines said that in the Connecticut Guard, there are two types of sexual assault/harassment reporting: restrictive and unrestrictive.
“Through restrictive reporting, no names are recorded,” she said. “And the offender cannot be punished. Through unrestrictive reporting, the offender will be punished to the fullest extent possible.”
Maines said it’s up to the victim to choose which type of offense reporting they feel most comfortable with.
There is no statute of limitations for sexual assault/harassment crimes in the Connecticut Guard, Maines said. In other words, if the offense occurred while a victim served in the military, no matter how much time has passed, the offender can still be punished, and the victim can still receive all the support that he or she requires, she said. .
Maines would like victims of sexual assault/harassment to know that their victimization is not their fault.
“You can come forward,” she said. “We will do all we can to help you.”
Maines said that she is very pleased to have received the DOD Exceptional SARC award, but is most happy that the environment of the Connecticut Guard has become a much safer and healthier environment for service members.
“If our leadership in Connecticut had not been open to allowing these positive changes to occur, we would not be where we are,” she said.
Soldiers and Airmen in need of assistance or more information can contact Maj. Maines directly, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-883-4798.