By Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The Department of Defense as well as the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office have developed a strategy for promoting a safe and comfortable work environment for all Airmen. By creating the program, it raises awareness of different avenues of education and training and builds a strong support group.
“All of these programs are great,” said Linda Benjamin, 19th Airlift Wing sexual assault victim’s advocate. “Reports are up from last year, which is a good thing. It means people are comfortable informing their leadership and confident that they will be taken care of.”
The efforts of education and training are designed to improve knowledge and influence attitudes and behaviors of a small population of sexual predators, to decrease the amount of sexual assaults in the United States Air Force as well as in the rest of the branches of service. The Air Force has implemented several courses and down days across the service dedicated to ensuring the dignity and respect of all Airmen.
Real Talk classes are available to Airmen and run through topics such as bystander intervention, victim empathy, consent, acceptable behavior and healthy relationships. These classes are available via leadership pathway and can also be set up for your entire squadron.
These lessons are in place to reinforce key messages and provide opportunities to practice the skills that are learned in each course. The courses are taught by peer educators who introduce real-life scenarios to help facilitate group discussions and minimize lectures; however, it is up to the base leadership to customize culture-specific content to their participant’s levels and base needs.
“Our base leadership has done a wonderful job of being innovative and working through these programs to target different audiences instead of just having a commander’s call and talking at people, instead of with them,” said Benjamin.
The training core competencies were developed by DoD SAPR office and the military services to assure consistency as well as effectiveness at all command levels.
The entirety of the DoD community will underscore the commitment and resolve to preventing sexual assaults.
“Sexual assault has no place in our Air Force. We live in a culture of respect. We cherish our core values of integrity, service and excellence. But in order to ensure all Airmen experience and benefit from those values, we must eliminate sexual assault in our ranks,” said Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, USAF Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
For more information on the Air Force SAPR program, visit www.sapr.mil, or contact the Little Rock AFB SAPR office at 501-987- 2685. Team Little Rock’s sexual assault hotline is 501-987-7272.