It starts with one

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Every tsunami starts as a ripple – every hurricane, a breeze – every avalanche, a few shifting snowflakes. Similarly, every culture change starts with a single act that spreads throughout society.

Over the coming months, airmen here will receive Green Dot training meant to start a cultural change reducing interpersonal violence – one person at a time.

"Green Dot goes beyond awareness," said Col. Jefferson O'Donnell, 366th Fighter Wing commander. "We're all aware that violence is bad, but we need to give airmen the tools to prevent it before it occurs."

The Air Force selected the Green Dot program based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention review of 140 studies regarding interpersonal violence prevention programs. The Green Dot program was found to be the only viable prevention approach, and consequentially has the most peer-reviewed research supporting its effectiveness.

Green Dot is part of a five-year strategy to decrease interpersonal violence across the Air Force.

The training comes in three tiers: a 90-minute session for base leadership, a 50-minute session for the general base populous and a special in-depth bystander training session for select trend-setting airmen. If the normal training is meant to start the avalanche of change, the four-hour bystander training is aimed to act like dynamite in key areas to make the change more effective.

Staff Sgt. Shaquasia Grandy, Staff Sgt. Sylvia Smith, 2nd Lt. Chase Barnes, Tech. Sgt. Kori Hillman and Tech. Sgt. Tessa Holtz were chosen to conduct the training and received certification in the Green Dot program.

To create a more relaxed atmosphere where people feel free to interact, regardless of rank, the instructors wear civilian clothes and were encouraged to be themselves.

"I really want to make sure that I'm bringing the message across clearly and that I'm paying homage to the program," Smith said. "I really feel like it is a positive program and it is going to really change people's lives."

Unlike previous training programs, Green Dot focuses on proactive, practical actions anyone can use to prevent violence.

"I think there's an acknowledgement there that the vast majority of human beings are good people," said Gary Strickland, 366th Fighter Wing community support coordinator. "They want to step in – they don't want bad things to happen. And with that acknowledgement, it allows the training to focus on the positives."

According to Strickland and 2015 statistics, Mountain Home AFB has had fewer incidents than the Air Force average in most incident categories, especially alcohol-related incidents and underage drinking. Green Dot is poised to further reduce incidents, promoting prevention at the source.

Despite an already good track record, Smith believes airmen will still benefit from the training.

"There's always room for improvement," she said. "We can always do better, be better, because these are people's lives at stake. These aren't just statistics, so I feel there's always room for improvement to be a better version of yourself."

Information will be released in the coming weeks on where airmen can sign up.

"Don't 'down' it before you get to it – it's really good," Grandy said. "You'll have a good time too."