Vandenberg sees promise in Co-Location Pilot

  • Published
  • By Rebecca Ward

Walking into Hawk’s Cove, the new Integrated Resilience Center at Vandenberg Space Force Base, is a little like walking into a living room. A comfortable sofa and set of chairs sit in the reception area of the 6000 sq. ft. space where clients may have their first contact with support personnel who will guide them through every step of an often-challenging process in reporting sexual assault, harassment, or abuse.

“That’s one of the things we’ve heard, that it’s really a very nice, warm, welcoming space. You walk in and it really feels like there is this ambience of regardless of why I’m here, I know I’m going to be taken care of,” said Emily Dreiling, Vandenberg’s Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA). 

Dreiling is one of the Action Officers for the new Integrated Resilience Center at Vandenberg, one of seven locations for the Department of the Air Force’s Co-Location Pilot program that officially began on August 1. The pilot program will continue for six months in order to evaluate the effectiveness of placing response and assistance agencies in a single location to help survivors of sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and other harmful behaviors.

Dreiling, who is an alternate Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) for Vandenberg as well as the DEIA director, is at the new facility fulltime. Hawk’s Cove also houses offices for a fulltime SARC, Victim Advocate, Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate, Community Support Coordinator, Violence Prevention Integrator, Civilian Health Promotion Services, and a satellite office for Equal Opportunity, Victims’ Counsel, and a Religious Support Team. While not all the installations in the Co-Location Pilot will have the same number of offices, they all share the same goal – attaining the right resources for anyone who walks through their door looking for help.  

“If an individual can find their way into our center, there would not be a time when they would need to be redirected to another office. They would have that support all in one location,” said Dreiling.

As an example, Dreiling describes what would happen for someone seeking support from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) office prior to the pilot initiation. She says the SAPR office has always provided around-the-clock response to a survivor. However, if a client requested an additional support component, such as religious support or mental health, the initial paperwork would be filed at the SAPR office, then the client would receive a series of referrals for different offices or agencies that were likely at different locations. 

Dreiling said now with the Vandenberg Co-Location Pilot, if a client would like additional support from the Chaplain, mental health, the Victims’ Counsel or another office, the referred agency meets the client at the center.  

“We’re really trying to make sure that once a person makes their way to the response arm of our programs, they are not having to go elsewhere unless it’s deemed necessary like medical care or for law enforcement investigations. But we, as the response arm of the pilot program, would still be going with that individual,” said Dreiling.

Another important aspect of the Co-Location Pilot is the location of the Integrated Resilience Center itself. Finding a single source of support for survivors of violence, abuse or harassment may be especially important to those who are hesitant to go outside their comfort zone, or in some cases, to a place that may be difficult to access.

Dreiling said, “When you start looking at barriers that might exist – especially to our spouse community needing help – we’re in an office that’s open and anybody can come in and walk through. We’ve received a lot of feedback that it is a more conducive to seeking assistance versus where they were previously located in the medical group because there’s just a lot more barriers, especially if someone is being trapped by their spouse or other things.”

Dreiling is an enthusiastic supporter of the Co-Location Pilot. She was also an Action Officer during the initial inspection of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military, and is thrilled to see the IRC recommendations come to fruition. 

“We just really want our pilot to be so successful here because we see such value and benefit. I know there’s a lot of focus on the data and all of the things that go along with making it a success. But really, just hearing the anecdotal stories and watching so many more people come through the door is exciting,” said Dreiling. 

Hawk’s Cove offers support and advocacy services for sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, child abuse prevention, suicide prevention, resilience, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility, Civilian Health Promotions and houses a satellite office for the Religious Support Team, Victim’s Council, and Equal Opportunity complaints for military and civilian personnel.

The seven installations selected for the Co-Location pilot were identified based on their population’s diversity, interest by the major command, and ability to execute the co-location. The pilot installations will be evaluated by comparing them to seven “control bases,” which have not co-located the requisite support offices and personnel.