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Air Force names SARC of the year

  • Published
  • By Joanne Perkins and Jim Fisher
  • Kirtland Air Force Base Public Affairs Office
Pam Reeves, Kirtland Air Force Base’s sexual assault response coordinator, has been named the Air Force’s SARC of the year for 2014. Her program stood out for its emphasis on outreach, visibility and strengthening relationships with commanders and other agencies vital to victim assistance in the wake of an assault.

Reeves said the Air Force-level recognition was "a great honor" and added to the gratification she receives on a daily basis from doing something she loves.

"My passion is helping people," she said. "It's humbling because there are some really amazing SARCs out there, and I couldn't do it without my team -- they are amazing."

While the SARC is charged with championing programs that are geared toward awareness and prevention, the heart of the SARC's mission is victim assistance and advocacy. Reeves said she has taken this to heart and kept it at the core of her philosophy on conducting a superior program.

"I want people to know who we are and what we do and that we are there for them," Reeves said.

Her focus on visibility is not just for her office, but the issue of sexual assault in general. She explained that people begin receiving training on sexual assault prevention and reporting upon entering the Air Force, and continue to receive it at subsequent levels of training and periodically throughout their Air Force careers, but many do not make the training personal.

"(When) Airmen separate themselves from the training, they say, 'I don't do that -- I wouldn't be in that situation.'" she said. "So it's very important to be out among Airmen, and interact with people in a way that makes this personal to them. We want people to see there is a face behind every statistic. We live and work among survivors. That way, they are more likely to learn and apply measures to protect themselves and one another."

While the emphasis on awareness and preventative measures like bystander intervention have been effective, and adapted not only across the Defense Department but now being modeled at many universities, sexual assault is not always preventable, Reeves said.

"A person can do everything to mitigate risk and still be assaulted," she said. "And when someone becomes a victim of sexual assault, I want them to be familiar with us so they know where to go for help. We need to be visible, for Airmen to see us and to know us, and to feel comfortable coming to us."

Another focus area has been engagement with command and helping agencies. Reeves' personal engagement with Air Force officials and leaders of all levels has helped her be able to streamline processes and develop efficient systems for victims in a "confidential and seamless" manner.

"These are the people and entities that are vital for getting help for our victims," Reeves said.

To procure assistance, she has collaborated with the Albuquerque Police Department, the Rape Crisis Center and the Albuquerque Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. She also uncovered a little-known, free legal service available to civilian victims.

When asked about her proudest accomplishment, she gave examples of several victims who are successfully recovering. One of her clients was selected to speak to Air Force senior leaders at the 2014 Survivor Summit.

Reeves said the above-and-beyond elements which led to the program being recognized were simply what the job required, and that going to great lengths was necessary to doing it right.

"I want people to know that I am going to go the long mile for them -- whatever it takes," she said.