Service members on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson spent Friday addressing an issue not typically discussed on a military work day – the high rates of sexual assaults happening within its ranks.
The conversations went beyond public service announcements and posters and focused on response and prevention. In Alaska, there have been three recent court martial cases involving a sex crime.
The Pentagon ordered all military branches to have a sexual assault prevention response stand down by June 30.
"People were being put on the spot to answer these questions to help foster this discussion and its also to be able to take it in and to really think about the messages we were putting out there," said SSgt. William Banton, who works for JBER Public Affairs.
Military command engaged in real talk with service members about the problem and how to stop it.
"I've seen as being a bystander, just not saying something, people laughing at crude jokes, or just not doing the right thing at the right time for fear of whatever might happen," said Shevonda Evans, with 673rd Air Force Support Squadron. "One of the ladies made a comment about feeling like meat on a slab that stuff still happens, it really exists and they need to do something about it."
On JBER, the Special Victims' Counsel was created to as part of the plan to encourage more reporting. The group’s mission will be responsible for representing victims of sexual assault throughout the legal process.
"We want them to help understand the process like they feel like they are alone, we want to make sure that they know their rights," said MSgt. Laurie Holman, who works for the JBER Special Victims' Counsel.
The all day training took place on both Army and Air Force sides of JBER and included bystander intervention training, commander's calls, and smaller group sessions broken down in units.
"For those that are predators we want them to know is ‘we are going to investigate allegations fully [and] take action where appropriate,’" said JBER Commander Col. Brian Duffy. "For our bystanders, we want them to get involved and for our victims, we want them to come forward so we can help them."
Contact Corey Allen-Young