By Cameron S. Hunt | 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — On April 4th 2019, the 21st Space Wing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate conducted a Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention symposium here at Peterson Air Force Base for command leadership, superintendents and supervisors.
The forum had lecturers derived from the Sexual Assault and Prevention office, Security Forces Investigations, Office of Special Investigation, Special Victims Council and the Staff Judge Advocates’ office. These agencies are from every major department that is involved in a sexual assault incident that could lead to disciplinary actions.
The symposium provided attendees with a 360 degree viewpoint of the sexual assault reporting and investigative process, offering a template of resources supervisors can use when needed. Ideally an organization’s leadership would prefer not to have these types of incidents occur at all. However, the reality is that when they do occur, Airmen need to be properly equipped to respond.
“Today we’ve brought together a very robust panel of subject matter experts with regard to reporting and investigating sexual assault incidents in order to provide the appropriate tools to protect victims of sexual assault,” said Lt. Col. Sterling Pendleton, 21st Space Wing, staff judge advocate. “This training will give supervisors a greater understanding of how the different agencies come together in their role to raise awareness, and provide counseling and assistance to Airmen.”
The symposium was the first of its kind at Peterson AFB, Colorado. The event not only benefits the attendees but also the instructors, because they get to interact with their colleagues involved in these processes. Instructors are able to exchange information and see the different vantage points of their partner agencies.
“Not only was this symposium designed to raise awareness for the rights of victims, but we wanted to help supervisors realize how these incidents have an effect on our daily missions as well,” stated Capt. Kevin Mitchell, 21st Space Wing chief of military justice. “In this forum we present tools to handle a sexual assault within the workplace, and then present scenarios in which we offer measures supervisors can take to respond.”
The overall message of the symposium was that neither the victims nor the accused had to go through this process alone or without guidance. Regardless of the nature of the incident, respect for all persons involved was paramount.
“Being a new first sergeant, the most eye-opening portion for me was learning about the Special Victims Counselor responsibilities,” said Master Sgt. Derek Geske, 21st Security Forces Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of operations. “Being from the SF career-field, I had no clue just how in depth an SVC’s part was in providing a victim support and legal guidance.”
Col. Todd Moore, 21st Space Wing commander had this to say about the benefits he received from the symposium, “It was definitely a comprehensive approach in its scope regarding sexual assault. … Additionally, it was great to see all of the different agencies and the services available to assist our Airmen through the sexual assault response process.”
For more information regarding the common issues in assisting victims of sexual assault, refer to the 21st Space Wing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at 719-556-4871 and the 21st Space Wing Sexual Assault and Prevention office at 719-556-6972.