By Rob Schuette, Triad Staff
New and current military unit victim advocates (UVAs) learned
the latest about military and civilian information and support
services during a week-long training session at Fort McCoy.
UVAs or Sexual
Assault Response coordinators (SARC) representing the active-component
Army, Army Reserve and National Guard, Air National Guard and Navy
attended the UVA Training and SARC Training. Barbara Mashak, the Fort
McCoy Army Community Service (ACS) SARC, said the UVAs must attend 40
hours of training annually. The training covers prevention, response
and recovery for victims of sexual assault/abuse.
Carin White of Brighter Tomorrows
tells attendees at SAPRP training about the groundwork needed
for healthy relationships. (Photo
by Rob Schuette)
"Prevention is accomplished through education awareness
and promotion of healthy living environments," Mashak said.
"Response means a sensitive and speedy response through the
creation and support of advocates and the SARC. Recovery covers the
systemic and individual recovery from sexual assault."
"As the front line point of contact, UVAs are key and
essential to the success of victim recovery and to the mission goals
of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program (SAPRP)."
The training covered levels for the initial UVA certification,
refresher UVA information and SARC-level training. Large group
presentations, as well as small group breakouts, were held to present
information and to provide role-playing exercises, Mashak said.
Jane Lux, SAPRP coordinator from the National Guard Bureau in
Arlington, Va., said the training enables SARCs and UVAs to respond
appropriately and sensitively to any sexual assault victims in their
home states. The guidance is contained in Department of Defense
Instruction 6495.02, the Sexual Assault Policy.
"It was positive to work with (the various military SARCs),"
Lux said. "All trainers who helped with this training were
extremely knowledgeable, and there was a great sharing of resources
and information to benefit the participants from the National Guard,
active-component Army and the U.S. Army Reserve."
"The civilian resources who were invited to participate
were subject matter experts in a variety of areas and provided
firsthand knowledge of situations and resources that can benefit the
military victim advocates."
Maj. Sheila Howell, Army Reserve SAPRP manager for the U.S.
Army Reserve Command at Fort McPherson, Ga., said she assisted with
the training, which is mandated by the Department of Defense. The
training is intended to reinforce the Army's standards and values by
promoting a comprehensive program that provides victim advocacy,
awareness, education, prevention and response to enhance well-being,
Soldier retention, mission readiness and community interaction.
"One of the key elements of the Army Reserve SAPRP is that
it offers victims two reporting options - restricted (allows a victim
to get help without setting a criminal investigation into action), and
unrestricted (same services as restricted plus the military will
conduct an official investigation if the incident involves a
servicemember or happened on a military installation," Howell
said. "The Army Reserve SAPRP teaches that all victims deserve to
be treated with dignity, fairness and respect."
The joint training opportunity helped to clarify how the other
services run their programs. Howell said it was beneficial to glean
information from members of the other service branches.
"For those who will be advocates in the local Fort McCoy
area it was very helpful to have civilian resources readily available
to share valuable information on the services they provide and how
they can support the program, and it was good to get different
perspectives," Howell said.
Maj. Cynthia Rasmussen, the Combat Operational Stress Control
Officer SARC for the 88th Regional Readiness Sustainment Command
Surgeon's Office, said the training reinforced and taught some of the
skills that are new or unique to military environs.
"(The role of the victim advocate) is to support the
victim; this is a very important program," Rasmussen said.
The SAPRP designates that units appoint a Soldier to be a UVA.
Mashak said Fort McCoy's 12 UVAs are trained to be sensitive to a
victim's immediate needs, provide support, resources and referrals,
and can serve as a confidential reporting agent for those choosing a
Fort McCoy's UVAs help support the program through prevention
activities, including monitoring ways to keep a safe, healthy
environment and provide annual sexual assault awareness training for
their units, she said.
"(The program means) each unit has a subject matter expert
on sexual assault (prevention), reporting options and community
resources for those in need of help," Mashak said.
Nearly 20 presenters, representing both military and civilian
organizations, spoke during the program. Many civilian agencies in the
surrounding areas provided subject experts on a volunteer basis to
address the participants.
"We were able to go much more in-depth on topics than if
we did it just for ourselves," Mashak said. "It also was
good to train with the other service programs so we know about their
programs and how to help each other."
For more information about the SAPRP at Fort McCoy, call the
Fort McCoy SARC at (608) 388-8951 or visit the Web site http://www.mccoymwr.com
and click on ACS School House and Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.
An on-call UVA to help with concerns can be reached at (414) 238-1676.