Master Sgt. Rita Cassio was a member of the 63rd Regional Readiness Command until it was disestablished in 2009. She was temporarily assigned under the 79th SSC following deployment.
“I love people and I love being able to bring a smile to those around me,” said Master Sgt. Rita Cossio. “Soldiers are special, in that they join the military to serve their nation, what better way for me to return my gratitude than to serve them and help them in any way I can.”
Cossio, deployable sexual assault response coordinator, Headquarters Company, 13th
Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), was named the Multi-National Corps-Iraq DSARC of the Year in October against more than 200 other DSARCs throughout theater.
She will continue on to be considered for the Department of Defense DSARC of the Year
among all other military branches.
“It really wasn’t a hard decision to make,” said Sgt. 1st Class Beatrice Watkins, theater
DSARC, United States Forces-Iraq. “She stood out amongst all the others. If anyone ever
needed something she always came through. People would go to her rather than anyone else for guidance because she never turns a Soldier away.”
Cossio was presented the Army Commendation Medal by Brig. Gen. Peter
C. Bayer, I Corps Chief of Staff, for her professionalism and dedication to duty.
“To do this job you have to have a lot of compassion for the Soldiers,” said Cossio.
“Nothing is more important than the first two seconds with a victim.”
While stationed in Balad as the DSARC, Cossio trained 2,000 Servicemembers in
the span of five months. She would train Servicemembers during nightshifts, after her
normal working day ended, to ensure they received the training.
While Cossio was the DSARC in Balad, there was a four-month period with no sexual assaults reported.
“I was determined to make sure everyone knew who I was, what my job was and that
I was approachable,” said Cossio. “I trained anyone I could. I was more than happy to train at night if that was the best time.”
Cossio has served in the military for 35 years and is determined to help Servicemembers however she can. “I love what I do,” said Cossio. “I’ve extended another six months in this job, there’s a need for passion and commitment. I hope that I can be someone that victims feel like they can turn to.”