SARCs hone skills at annual refresher course

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  • Headquarters Air Force Public Affairs
The Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office recently concluded a five-day annual refresher course for nearly 130 Air Force sexual assault response coordinators at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia, Aug. 3-7.

The SARCs participated in a variety of lessons on prevention, policy, training and leadership interaction designed to reinforce their knowledge and skills.

“SARCs are the backbone of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program,” said Maj. Gen. Gina Grosso, the Air Force SAPR director. “This annual training is our opportunity not just to ensure they have the latest information on policies and procedures, but also to get their feedback on what’s working, what isn’t and how we can continue to improve. Their enthusiasm for learning and dedication to the Airmen they support is truly inspiring.”

The SARCs and deputy SARCs across the Air Force serve as trusted agents for Airmen in crisis at 113 bases around the world, said Maj. Scott Crum, the Air Force SAPR deputy operations chief.

“Although our SARCs vary greatly in rank and experience from new lieutenants to experienced civil servants, they must all earn the trust and confidence of the Airmen they serve,” Crum said. “This refresher training is as critical to their professional development as professional military education is to our force.”

Although some of the material was familiar to the SARCs from their initial certification course, the continued education helps them hone their skills and motivates them to use newly learned skills, said Barry Waite, the Ira C. Eaker Center for Professional Development’s chief of workforce diversity and civilian professional development at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Waite taught a two-hour block on communicating with leadership at all levels Aug. 5; one of the goals of the lesson was to understand and identify not only their own personality, but co-workers’ and leaderships’ personalities as well.

“I loved his lesson and the interactive way it’s delivered,” said 1st Lt. Anna Gault, the deputy SARC at Aviano Air Base, Italy. “The SAPR program has a spotlight on it, and we work directly for the vice wing commander, so we need to understand how to interact with our leadership, because if we aren’t communicating we could end up with a negative outcome.”

Another benefit of the continuing education course is networking with other SARCs in the field, said Ron Nelson, the Air Mobility Command SAPR program manager. Building networks is tremendously important at these annual continuing education events, Nelson said.

When SARCs leave the initial training course at Maxwell AFB, they all have the same basic skill set, but as they build from their experiences they can share with other SARCs or lean on SARCs from other bases who have already handled similar circumstances.

“Our policies and procedures are constantly evolving as we learn more about this crime and how to prevent and respond to it,” Grosso said. “This annual training is a vital opportunity to bring all our SARCs together to give them the best tools and training possible to serve our Airmen.”