SAPR: Creating a culture shift

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
  • 673rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
According to officials from the Department of Defense's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, rising reports of sexual assault is not only a good indication of a cultural shift in the force structure, but also on the utilization of SAPR resources.

People who experience sexual assault are proving to be more likely to report it, which allows commanders to weed out the perpetrators, and in turn, create a safer environment for everyone.

However, according to Col. Brian Bruckbauer, the 673rd Air Base Wing commander, one sexual assault is too many.

"We are resolved to inspire a change in behavior and are striving to shape an audience that is receptive and responsive rather than discouraged and potentially apathetic," Bruckbauer said. With this in mind, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson commanders have assembled a team of volunteers to provide first-hand insight into the current SAPR training and what they think can be done differently to create results.

Originally designed as a short-term feedback session, the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson SAPR Task Force, or JSTF, was formed to provide new information on preventing sexual assaults to senior leadership where volunteers offer a unique perspective on sexual assault prevention.

"We are trying to establish communication, instead of one-way direction," said Darmaly Williams, the 673rd ABW SAPR program manager. "It's important to us that the community understands we are open to listen; we want them to speak up, to let us know how they feel, and to let us know what they need. We are trying to change a culture, so we need all the help we can get."

The JSTF is composed entirely of Airmen within the target population that experiences the most sexual assaults. Statistics from the SAPR program indicate 61 percent of sexual assault completed investigations happen to persons under the age of 25, and 19 percent do not have an age documented. This means a potential of 80 percent of completed investigations could be in that demographic.

With that in mind, JSTF Airmen are tasked to give the command staff a peek inside the mind of younger service members. They consider within their corresponding demographic purviews whether Airmen in their age group take SAPR briefings seriously, the context in which sexual assaults normally occur, and why some victims decline to report.

By consulting with the JSTF, senior leadership get an idea about the needs of their Airmen and begin to tailor SAPR training specifically for them, Williams added."They don't just want to see change; they want to be part of the change," Williams said. "It's inspiring."

According to Bruckbauer, the JSTF will meet directly with commanders and senior enlisted advisors on a quarterly basis.

"During these meetings, JSTF members provide feedback on current initiatives, report concerns they experience or that have been brought to their attention and offer solutions they feel will best resonate with our Airmen," he said.