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Airmen, Soldiers CLEAR the air on sexual assault

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – The 86th Airlift Wing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) office, in association with assisting agencies, hosted the third annual CLEAR challenge April 14, outside the Southside Fitness Center on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.  

CLEAR stands for courage, leadership, educate, advocate, and respect,” said 1st Lt Lauren McGuire, 86th AW SAPR office coordinator and event coordinator. 

The purpose of the joint event is to bring awareness to the topics of sexual assault prevention and alcohol abuse prevention.

During the challenge, contestants completed an obstacle course with tasks such as a ruck sack relay race, blindfolded maze, tire flip, wall climb, low crawl and other physically demanding tasks. Each task had a significant meaning as to why they were involved in this year’s challenge.

While it was an illustrative way of bringing awareness to dark topics, each event symbolized something victims may experience during their road to recovery. 

For example, Tech. Sgt. Matthew Cortes, 721st Aerial Port Squadron shift supervisor for ramp services and a CLEAR Challenge coordinator explained the significance behind the ruck-march relay.

“The Ruck-March relay is meant to symbolize the weight that a victim may carry after a sexual assault,” Cortes said, “As well as the individual struggle that they deal with during that time.” 

The lessons learned during the CLEAR challenge allow Airmen to better practice bystander intervention. In both sexual assault and alcohol abuse situations, a bystander who can intervene is normally present in both circumstances.

“The CLEAR challenge helps address what we can be doing as Airmen or Soldiers or whomever in the DoD, to help decrease sexual assault in our service.” Emily Menzel, 86th AW SAPR office lead victim advocate said. “So all of those letters look at the mission of bystander intervention.” 

Annually, the CLEAR challenge is the largest event held by the SARC office. 
This year, the CLEAR challenge received the most participants ever with nearly 300 contestants.

“It’s changed a little bit every year so this year is much larger,” Menzel said. “This year we’ve added on to bring in outside agencies. It’s always been dual service, but this year there’s been more involvement with the Army and more joint planning.” 

Working alongside the SARC office to coordinate the event were Kaiserslautern Military Community mental health advocates and chaplains, the non-profit Green Dot organization, the Family Advocacy Program, Military Family Life Counselors, the Alcohol and Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, and the Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention.

The 86 Airlift Wing SAPR office will host a brown bag lunch in building 2402 on April 26, to bring awareness to the problem of male victimization.

For more information on preventing sexual assault and alcohol abuse visit the Ramstein SAPR office or call DSN: 480-7272, Commercial: 0637-147-7272.