Every year the Department of Defense recognizes April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. This year’s theme is “Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission,” and while April 2020 is significantly different than years prior, people are still the top priority of the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing.
Despite COVID-19 resulting in social distancing and minimum manning at Creech Air Force Base, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office is still available to military members and qualifying dependents to report a sexual assault, either in person or digitally.
Felicia, 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator as of January, has plunged full-steam ahead as the leader for the SAPR program. However, with only two months on the job, she has had to shift to telework due to COVID-19 precautions. Regardless of the challenge, Felicia shared how she is motivated and prepared to serve every member of the Hunter family who may need her.
Despite being relatively new to Creech, Felicia brings years of experience to the team. She is a licensed substance abuse and mental health counselor, and conducted clinical work in the Las Vegas area before becoming the Creech SARC. She also spent several years as a volunteer victim advocate, and an assistant SARC at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
A common misconception about the SAPR program is the program is only there for support after a sexual assault has already occurred.
“One of the biggest parts of the SAPR program is the education training and outreach piece,” Felicia said. “[Social distancing and minimum manning] does make it a challenge. I’ve had to get creative and be visible to let others know that the SARC is still around.”
An extension of the SARC, also working to train and protect Airmen and families are the volunteer victim advocates. According to Felicia, all of the volunteer victim advocates at Creech AFB are active-duty service members.
Master Sgt. Marcial, 432nd Operations Support Squadron non-commissioned officer in charge of requirements and optimization, is a volunteer victim advocate, and has four years of victim advocate experience between Creech AFB, Nev. and Spangdahlem AFB, Germany.
According to Marcial, being a victim advocate is about breaking down barriers and enabling service members to be confident and willing to share their story with them.
“We are here to help,” Marcial said. “Being a victim advocate is about making a difference in people’s lives, even if it’s just one person. Most of the time we are conducting training and getting to know Airmen and building that trust and confidence, so if and when they do decide to come forward, they feel comfortable talking to us.”
Victims may feel isolated and unaware of the resources available for reporting sexual assault or abuse while quarantining at home. As the Nation continues to work to slow the spread of COVID-19, it is important to remember there are people available to help report sexual assault and abuse.
Both restricted and unrestricted reporting options are available during this time, and the SAPR Office is still open to service members and their families in need. COVID-19 response measures should not keep members from reporting sexual assault or abuse; there is help available. To utilize the SARC Hotline, please call 702-652-7272
For more information about the SAPR office, reporting options and more, please visit the Creech SAPR website.