Deployed Airmen fight against sexual assault

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike
  • 435th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Sexual assault has been one of the prime topics of annual trainings and briefings in the Air Force for many years now. With the issue being as destructive as it is to unit morale, the professional work environment, and the identities of the survivors, Airmen are standing up and fighting back.


At the 435th Air Expeditionary Wing, Airmen spread across Europe and Africa at six geographically separated units have volunteered to help the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator provide the best possible service for victims and survivors of sexual assault in one of the most challenging locations.


“At a normal installation the SARC and victim advocates would have everything we need at our disposal or very close by,” said 1st Lt. DeAndrea Jones, 435th AEW/SARC. “Here at the 435th, I have to travel to all the separated units to provide face-to-face training to victim advocates in accordance with Air Force Instructions, and we have to have more coordination to ensure victims get the help they need.”


Recently Jones completed a 40-hour initial training course for four Airmen volunteering to be victim advocates at an undisclosed location in East Africa.


“The training teaches victim advocates about reporting options and procedures, confidentiality, trauma, roles and responsibilities, and prevention,” said Jones. “It prepares them to respond to a victim’s case compassionately and professionally.”


Overall, Jones has provided training to 17 individuals in deployed units to help facilitate and manage sexual assault cases in their unique environments.


After completing his initial training, a victim advocate reflected on his decision to stand up and support those who may need help.


“It’s going to be a big responsibility being a victim advocate,” said Staff Sgt. James Godfrey, 475th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron radio frequency transmissions technician. “We have to carry ourselves in the most professional manner, especially when it comes down to supporting survivors who request our help. To me it’s a big step and I’m glad I took the opportunity.”


While victim advocates help victims take on traumatic events by providing support and guidance, Jones ensures they know their choice to help is invaluable.

“What these Airmen are doing, volunteering their time to be victim advocates is definitely commendable,” said Jones. “Not only are they pressured by their daily duties, work in harsh conditions, but they also dedicate their time to support the SAPR program and help those in need.”