934th Airlift Wing participates in Sexual Assault and Prevention Month

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Colton Tessness
  • 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

April is Sexual Assault and Prevention Month. During this time, 934th Airlift Wing members are reminded of this issue's importance and the resources available.

Additionally, April is an opportune time for the wing to highlight the Air Force's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program.

Elizabeth Swanson, 934 AW Airlift sexual assault response coordinator, and her colleague 1st Lt. Chayo Smith, 934 AW SAPR victim advocate, are the wing's resources on this topic.

They are responsible for assisting victims of sexual assault and providing education on this subject to wing members. Their advocacy can range from referrals to mental health providers, providing members opportunities to switch units and assisting with navigating the uniform code of military justice. They are also in charge of many of the resiliency training and are responsible for putting together the wellness center on base.

The SAPR training is designed for Airmen and Civilians no matter where they are in their careers.

"Newcomers have their training focused on reporting options and SARC functions," said Smith. "What inappropriate relationships look like — this is tailored to the Development and Training Flight."

There are also newcomers training explicitly related to the resources available at the 934 AW, along with an annual SAPR brief held to keep all wing Airmen and Civilians informed.

Several events occur yearly to help Airmen and civilians converse about these complex topics. Two new events hosted by the SAPR team, Cookies and Consent and Coffee and Conversations, were public get-togethers held at the Base Exchange. Cookies and Consent educated and defined what consent is concerning sexual assault. Coffee and Conversations promoted awareness for Sexual Assault and Prevention Month.

"A huge piece of the job is coordinating events that everyone can attend," said Smith. "The goal at the events is to present difficult conversations in a way that makes it more palatable to discuss around a table with cookies."

This April's unit training assembly in the 934 AW headquarters building entrance was an exhibit of boots, some with teal paint and others without, set up for Airmen to view. The display was a collaboration of SARC members from the 934 AW, the 133 AW, the 148th Fighter Wing, and the Minnesota National Guard.

"The display shows the impact of sexual assault," said Swanson. "There are a couple of pieces to it. The teal boots represent people who have experienced a sexual assault. There are boots that have [teal paint] splatters on them that represent how sexual assault not only affects the individual but also those around them."

The boots are all in marching formation, stepping off with the left foot raised and showing that everyone is moving forward together to eliminate sexual assault from our ranks.

"The most important display is the 'upstanding behavior,'" said Swanson. "Previously, there has been more focus on bystander intervention, but there has been a cultural shift toward upstanding behavior."

Upstanding behaviors are professional behaviors that people display that prevent someone from performing actions that would be on the continuum of harm. When everyone is exhibiting these behaviors, it makes everyone's jobs easier and increases efficiency in our units, all while preventing workplace sexual assault.

The importance of having a month to focus on sexual assault and prevention is to remind members that these issues still exist, the impact it has, and that the Air Force is working toward eradicating this issue.

"Our goal with all of the training and prevention efforts is to essentially work ourselves out of a job," said Smith. "Every awareness event or training is a step in that direction."