On a role: 934 Airlift Wing introduces roleplay to SAPR training

  • Published
  • By Chris Farley
  • 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office

At the beginning of every year, Air Force training managers start polishing their PowerPoint slides and sprucing them up with new and updated material for their annual mandatory refresher training for their respective wings.

Sexual assault prevention and response, and suicide prevention training are annual and crucial training modules conducted every year.
Instead of employing a massive and dense PowerPoint slide deck, the 934th Airlift Wing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office took its annual refresher training in a new and engaging direction this year.

“So, the content is the same. It's the same information that everybody's been getting every year. Still, it's set up in a roleplay style; specifically, for SAPR [training], you see a case unfold from different perspectives,” said Elizabeth Swanson, 934 AW SAPR Office sexual assault response coordinator. “I think a lot of times people forget that there's a lot of people involved when we have a separate case.”

During the class, wing members participated and watched two scenarios of suicide prevention and sexual assault evolve.

“We [prevention staff] really just wanted to give the unit the best that we could and so we thought about some ways we can improve the program,” said Timothy LaSelle, 934th Mission Support Group training manager. “We kind of adapted that and modified and changed the program to get the Airmen, leaders and everyone involved, maybe a snapshot of what it could be like to see those types of situations play out”.  

LaSelle’s law enforcement experience facilitated his roleplay idea to field this training method to mental health issues. “It was easy for me, and I had the confidence, so I think everyone had the tools. They just needed a little push and then me being there to help be that factor,” said LaSelle.    

The general structure of the class involves a situation in which the trainees play specific roles and at the conclusion, the group discusses and asks questions pertinent to the circumstances they worked through together.

The suicide prevention scenario begins with an Airman redeploying after a mobilization. The Airman is suffering from hardships and their opinion on the Air Force changed because of what they experienced during the deployment. Additionally, the Airman is undergoing mental anguish because their family wants them to separate from the Air Force.    

As this situation unfolds, the class witnesses suicidal warning signs and the resulting risky behavior. This sets the scene up, shows the troubled Airman is in a state of mental turmoil, and then, the class gets involved. The result is that Airmen utilize the “Ask-Care-Escort” approach to help a fellow Airman coming up against some serious mental problems that could result in suicide.    

“So, we're just presenting some facts, blending the situation, and allowing the members or the trainees to get some practice going through all of those motions and picking up on everything and then getting the person where they need to be,” said LaSelle.

“The SAPR one is very specific and there's less leeway. It's a little bit more guided. So, people have cards they read from and that was done intentionally just because there's a lot of information we have to cover,” said Swanson.

The sexual assault scenario starts restricted and then develops into an unrestricted report. This allows the audience to see both sides and how a private investigation becomes public.

“It’s important to know the difference between the two reports. If it's a restricted report, there is no investigation. The information stays just within the SAPR office. For an unrestricted report, there is an investigation. If there's an investigation, that means OSI [Office of Special Investigations], JAG [Judge Advocate General] and the wing commander are involved in the investigation.    

Additionally, the SARCs considered their audience when designing the SAPR scenario, so it wouldn’t include any elements that could trigger a past victim.

“There's a lot of stuff that could potentially come up and we can still train without diving into some of these other areas of a sexual assault,” said Swanson.  

“We've seen it happen and I'm very thankful we have a great instructor staff with a lot of experience. When you do train like this, there's a potential where it can go different ways, depending on what the audience says,” said LaSelle.


All the hard work the SARCs have put into this class has been paying off through class participation and positive feedback.    

“People come back, and they say they've really enjoyed it much better than the previous years. We've had chiefs come up and say, this is the best thing I've seen in the last five to ten years,” said LaSelle.

Master Sgt. Tyler Olson, 934th Logistics Readiness Squadron warehouse supervisor, said he enjoyed this in-person class much better than using computer-based training to complete his annual requirement. He also said engaging and in-person training is more beneficial than clicking through a slideshow.

Swanson appreciates this time to have open and honest discussions with 934 AW members because everyone connects over this critical topic.

“It's an open and honest discussion with our Airmen and I think that's really what I would say that I'm getting out of it. It's just being able to connect with them,” said Swanson.    

Tech Sgt. Brandi Quintero, 934 Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental technician, said she liked the exercise because it mentally trains a person to get in that mindset to deal successfully with SAPR and suicide situations.         

“Actually, this could be a real situation, and how are we going to process it and how are we going to react to it? These are your people. You know, how are you going to help your people.”


DoD Safe Helpline.

DoD Safe Helpline is the sole secure, confidential, and anonymous crisis support service specially designed for members of the Department of Defense community affected by sexual assault.  


Web Chat: https://www.safehelpline.org/


934th Airlift Wing SAPR Office

24/7 Help 612-386-8128

Location: Bldg727, Room 201

Office Phone: 612-713-1315

Office Hours: 0800-1430, M-f & UTAs

Email: elizabeth.swanson@us.af.mil   


Suicide and Crisis Line dial 988.