Supporting victims with Victim Advocates

(Courtesy Graphic)

(Courtesy Graphic)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The Volunteer Victim Advocate Program for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office provides emotional support to victims of sexual assault.

“It’s important to have members who are passionate about supporting victims of sexual assault though their traumatic experience,” said Jessica Bradshaw, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.

To become a VVA, the member must be active duty military or a Department of Defense employee and are interviewed by their commander to see if they qualify for duty. Those applying must not have any record of a court-martial, non-judicial punishment, or administrative action for sexual assault, sexual harassment, unprofessional relationships, physical abuse, child abuse, substantiated complaint of reprisal/retaliation/abuse of authority, or any information that would preclude selection.

VVAs answer a calling to help victims of sexual trauma, are trustworthy and have integrity and compassion, said Maj. Clinton Albaugh, 509th Weapons Squadron Chief of Standardization and Evaluation and 92nd ARW Alternate SARC.

VVAs complete 40 hours of training which covers response to trauma and sexual assault, potential psychological consequences of trauma, medical response to trauma and available helping agencies and their impact on recovery from sexual trauma. The training also educated new VVAs on investigative and judicial procedures for a sexual assault investigation, and current science and research regarding public health and violence prevention.

“Once a VAA is certified through the DoD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program, the advocate is required to maintain an additional 32 hours of education every two years,” Bradshaw said.

The additional training will include ethics and professional and leadership development. To maintain 32 hours VVAs may attend conventions, seminars and complete online training from various agencies.

VVAs are available 24/7 for military members, retired military, dependents age 18 and older and DoD civilian employees.

“Our VVAs are here to listen while being nonjudgmental and can provide moral support during law enforcement interviews and medical appointments,” said Vada Martinez, 92nd ARW SAPR VA.

For more information on the Volunteer Victim Advocate Program, call the Response Line at (509)247-7272 or visit the SAPR office in building 2245 room 240.