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Air Force and Army join forces against sexual assault

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jim Bentley
  • 332d Air Expeditionary Wing

Representatives from the 332d Air Expeditionary Wing and the US Army organized a joint effort to raise awareness and provide long term support for survivors of sexual assault in the military. The Department of Defense Men’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Campaign, or “DoD Men’s SAPR Campaign,” focused on male victims of sexual assault.

The program trained service members on the nature of trauma and how to help those who have gone through it. Staff Sgt. Devin Flores, a sexual assault survivor, spoke on his experience, the process of trauma recovery and trauma’s effects on the brain.

“I think it went really well, it’s a step in the right direction,” said Flores. “Kind of breaking down those barriers that come with you growing up, and things of that sort, and all the stigmas that come along with them. I saw people pop their heads up at certain points and be shocked, and then saw a lot of people nodding their heads like ‘yeah, I’ve seen that, I’ve been there.’”

The program led to an increase in cooperation between the Air Force and Army sexual assault response programs. Members of the Air Force are now collaborating with members of the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP program, to train members of both branches together.

Tech. Sgt. Mychel Barker says “it was very beautifully spoken. I would love to see more of that, more people speaking out, and more men speaking about things that happened to them in their past.”

Barker is the president of Red Tail Shield, a peer-to-peer volunteer organization that bridges the gap between support agencies and airmen in need of help. The informal nature of their services lets service members get support when they don’t feel comfortable talking to leadership or official providers. The Army has expressed an intention to create a similar program using the same foundational principles.