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SAPR: keeping Airmen fit to fight

The Department of Defense, Air Force and Sexual Assault Prevention Response teams are working to make male victims more comfortable to report with such a vast variety of support options such as SAPR Victim’s Advocate, the Special Victim’s Counsel, Chaplains and others. To request services or information from the Spangdhalem Air Base, Germany, SAPR office, please contact 0656561-7272. That number is manned 24/7. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Sarah Denewellis)

Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho -- MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho – In the past, some would say that reporting sexual assault in the military was taboo - a subject too difficult to speak about. Today, our Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program is making a difference by bringing the issue to the forefront.

The 366th Fighter Wing’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program is essential to the Gunfighter mission by making sure our Airmen are emotionally fit to fight.

“Anyone who isn’t mentally and emotionally healthy can’t support the mission,” said Katherine Miller, the sexual assault response coordinator at Mountain Home Air Force Base. “Our leadership knows that, I don’t know of any commanders who aren’t supporting SAPR.”

Miller has been here since 1999, where she retired as a Senior Master Sergeant. During her 28 years of service in the Air Force, Miller wanted to make the military a better place for the Airmen who were following in her footsteps.

“SAPR assists commander’s calls, First Term Airmen Center briefings and newcomer’s briefings,” Miller said. “I’m very passionate about this, because I care. Every day, I wake up and I want to be here.”
Taking on her role as the SARC, Miller tries to engage with the Gunfighter community as often as possible, so that Airmen can understand that sexual assault is an issue.

“We know that Airmen feel like we have too many SAPR briefings,” Miller said. “Very often when an individual does seek our services, they express how they wish they had listened more carefully. SAPR briefings are important, they can provide people the tools needed to care for themselves, or even someone else.”

Tech. Sgt. Matthew Close, an ammunitions production supervisor for the 366th Equipment Maintenance Squadron has been a sexual assault victim’s advocate since 2014. Close believes that SAPR has improved significantly since he joined the Air Force.

“I joined back in 2004, and the changes that I’ve seen with the program made me want to come forward and become an advocate,” Close said. “The fact that we talk about it so much on this base, I believe it has made it easier and more comfortable for people to report.”

Even though working in SAPR can be stressful, Miller and Close both enjoy doing their part by making a difference in the community.

“Sometimes it’s hard to see at first, but it’s rewarding to see the overall change in a person,” Close said. “After we stop contact, we sometimes will see that person later in passing, and seeing their character change is fulfilling. Knowing at the end of the day that you’re doing something good makes it worth it.”

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