WASHINGTON (AFNS) --
Airmen will take the first step of a five-year strategy to decrease interpersonal violence across the service this month when 1,500 Airman implementers, including five Airmen from the 157th Air Refueling Wing, attend one of 22 Green Dot prep sessions worldwide.
The Air Force contracted the non-profit Green Dot organization to provide these violence prevention tools to the total Air Force over the next three years.
"Responding to the needs of survivors of sexual assault is always our first priority," said Capt. Sherri Pierce, the New Hampshire National Guard sexual assault response coordinator. "However, prevention is also an essential component. The new Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention Strategy
aims to give Airmen the tools necessary to recognize and prevent this violence before it occurs."
The prevention strategy presents a new phase in Air Force SAPR efforts.
"Previous efforts to lower sexual assault rates focused on risk reduction, not prevention," said Lt. Col. Diane Roberts, who will serve as a program coordinator. "Prevention means going to the root cause, and victims are not the root cause of sexual assault. By teaching our Airmen about the motivations and antecedents to sexual violence, Green Dot will help them better analyze situations, identify risks for violence, and become confident active bystanders."
Air Force senior leaders signed a foreword to the strategy charging all Airmen with the responsibility of preventing sexual assault last October.
"As a service, our number one priority has and will continue to be response. However, in order to stop violence before it occurs we must dedicate time to prevention," said Chief Master Sgt. Melanie Noel, the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response senior enlisted advisor. "Helping our Airmen understand what they can do to prevent violence and how they can do it is the first step."
Green Dot prepares organizations to implement a strategy of violence prevention that reduces power-based interpersonal violence, which includes not only sexual violence, but also domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, child abuse, elder abuse, and bullying.
"Green Dot is the Air Force's first step in arming Airmen for violence prevention using an evidence based public health model," said Dr. Andra Tharp, the Air Force's highly qualified prevention expert. "Although that sounds complicated, really what it means is that we know Airmen are a vital part of the solution and we will use methods like this that have been subjected to rigorous scientific testing and were proven to be effective in reducing violence."
Reflective of Green Dot's wider scope, command-designated Airmen at each installation will conduct 50-minute long sessions across the Air Force. Installation leadership will also have oversight of Green Dot through the Community Action Information Board and Integrated Delivery System, and track completion through the Advanced Distributed Learning System.
"It's on all of us to take responsibility to prevent interpersonal violence in our Air Force," said Air Force CAIB chair, Brig. Gen. Lenny Richoux. "There are more good Airmen out there who want to take care of their wingman than there are predators seeking to inflict acts of violence inside our family, and I have confidence our Airmen won't let me or each other stand-alone against this criminal behavior."
The 1,500 Airman implementers will complete training by March 2016. They will return to their units to train peer leader Airmen at each base followed by training for all Airmen.
"Taking care of one another requires an integrated approach using the expertise of the medical community, sexual assault prevention and the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence," Richoux said. "Old-school analog leadership from commanders and supervisors and between Airmen is the key to our success."
(Editor's Note: The 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs Office contributed to this story.