RAF MILDENHALL, SFK, UNITED KINGDOM
RAF MILDENHALL, England - "The Air Force goal for sexual assault is not simply to lower the number. The goal is zero," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III when he spoke before the House Armed Services Committee in January 2013. "It's the only acceptable objective. The impact on every victim, their family, their friends (and) the other people in their unit is heart-wrenching, and attacking this cancer is a full-time job, and we are giving it our full attention."
The leaders of the 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron took this message to heart and decided to step up by offering new training to their airmen.
“You all have mothers, sisters and some have daughters, right? Imagine if it was one of them who was attacked,” said Maj. Michael Boswell, 100th LRS commander. “We need to look out for our brothers and sisters in our squadron and our Air Force.”
Boswell spoke to 100th LRS airmen during a sexual assault prevention and response two-day training leadership course. The aim of the training was to provide supervisors the knowledge on what to look for in their airmen and to provide practical tools on how to step in to help a sexual-assault survivor.
Military members learn how to avoid becoming a victim and where they can seek help should the worst happen. But Boswell wanted his airmen to know how to help their co-workers and their logistics readiness family.
Following the training, an airman said it was extremely helpful and innovative.
“I think they should have this type of training at more bases, to let supervisors know how to deal with these circumstances,” said Tech. Sgt. Miranda May, 100th LRS Vehicle Operations supervisor from Myrtle, Miss.
During most training, participants view statistics and charts; however, this training was very different, and it struck a chord.
Far from slideshows and bar graphs, the group discussed actual cases from airmen with a story they were brave enough to share. The airmen could imagine the person in each case. Perhaps the participants could relate to the emotions they felt hearing the stories to those displayed by someone in their office — someone displaying different personality traits than normal, someone with a burden to bear.
“It’s more realistic to talk about real-life situations rather than just seeing a graph, this hints more at someone’s voice or reading something someone said or experienced,” said Senior Airman Jordan De Jesus, 100th LRS Individual Protective Equipment journeyman from Naples, Fla.
Master Sgt. Karin Pastian, 100th LRS IPE section chief from Garland, Texas, also led the training. Pastian concentrated on rape-trauma syndrome. Her role was to explain the after effects of rape — how a victim would feel the trauma of what has happened to him/her. Senior Master Sgt. Sandra Ruiz, 100th LRS Asset Management superintendent from Mascoutah, Ill., focused on the phenomenology of rape. She explained the study of structures of consciousness, as experienced from the first-person point of view. The training taught those present about what a survivor may be feeling.
Together, they discussed with the group how the feelings would be diverse, ranging from betrayal, self blame and denial to guilt and shame, and often undetectable unless a supervisor knew their airmen on a personal level.
Pastian and Ruiz wanted this training to be different, and to find other ways for members to take the message away and think about it.
“[Previous training] always focused on prevention and what to do as bystanders, but it didn’t teach us as leaders, what to do if something like this does happen to one of our troops,” May said.
Following these discussions, Master Sgt. Tamela Sanders, 352nd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron Maintenance Training Section superintendent and a victim advocate from Pensacola, Fla., used visual aids to help the group understand how the personality of a victim may change following a rape. These visual aids included a box of emotions, leading to the soul of the survivor and the personality of that person. Sanders also passed around a jack in the box. This represented a different emotion, and how the people in a survivor’s life may never know what emotion would present itself, or at what time.
The 100th LRS leaders expressed they want each and every member of the squadron to be able to come to work and feel safe. They want their airmen to feel comfortable, and to let them know they will be heard if they have concerns.
Far from previous generations who may have felt victimized for speaking out for what is right; they want the new generation of Airmen to be able to step up and step in if they see unacceptable behavior.
Boswell’s message was clear; there is no room for inappropriate “games” in his squadron. Seemingly harmless pranks may seem like a joke to some, but to others it could provoke difficult memories or make people feel uncomfortable.
“Each person deserves the right to feel comfortable at work; and they will in my squadron!” Boswell said.
For more information about this training or other sexual assault-related topics, contact the RAF Mildenhall Sexual Assault Response Coordinator at DSN 238-7272 or commercial at 01638 547272.
||RAF MILDENHALL, SFK, GB
||GARLAND, TX, US
||MASCOUTAH, IL, US
||MYRTLE, MS, US
||NAPLES, FL, US
||PENSACOLA, FL, US
This work, Stepping up: 100th LRS leaders provide SAPR training, by Gina Randall, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.