“For anyone who’s experienced sexual violence, you’re not alone,” said Capt. Colleen “Sunshine” Staudenmaier, 8th Fighter Wing sexual assault response coordinator (SARC). “If you reach out to me, our 24/7 hotline, or any of my victim advocates we will be there for you and support you because that is what we’re all about. You don’t have to carry that burden alone.”
Originally from Illinois, Staudenmaier has been serving as an Air Force officer for five years and Kunsan is her third duty station. By trade, she is a maintenance officer, but has always had a passion for supporting victims of sexual assault. She began working as a Volunteer Victim Advocate (VVA) a year and a half ago while stationed at Aviano Air Base in Italy. Upon a permanent change of station to Kunsan Air Base, she volunteered to become the Wolf Pack’s SARC and has had the position for eight months.
“Since she’s been here, she’s taught numerous 40-hour classes for VVA training,” said Tech. Sgt. Jessica Jones, 8th FW command post senior controller. “She has done a lot of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) victim advocate courses, taught certified members in the new suicide prevention training and more. She deals with a lot of things at once and it can be a challenge with her being the only person in the office at times, but it really shows that she is able to handle everything that she needs to do.”
Staudenmaier has worked over 20 cases dealing with sexual assault, but with the recent changes in October, sexual harassment cases now also have advocacy services through SAPR. Since then, her workload has increased.
“We ended the fiscal year with 39 cases in Kunsan,” Staudenmaier said. “That doesn’t mean that Kunsan is bad; half of those cases actually come from victims coming from different bases and they feel more comfortable having that conversation with us at Kunsan than they did at their previous base or prior to joining.”
Along with those changes in SAPR, Expanded Eligibility for Restricted Reporting now exists. An individual can tell their supervisor that they have a restricted case of sexual assault without having to participate in any investigation and can maintain their restricted report.
“A lot of people ask, ‘why I would ever do that?’” Staudenmaier said. “Well, now we’re giving the opportunity to care for people back to the supervisors and commanders. That way leaders can focus on the person instead of just worrying about an investigation. Now a supervisor can know that their troops performance might be declining, not because they are a bad Airman, but because of a trauma that occurred.”
Another recent change to SAPR is the new Safe to Report Policy that was enacted in October. If a case involved any minor collateral misconduct, such as an individual drinking underage during a sexual assault, then they cannot be punished. For severe collateral misconduct, the punishment will be delayed and scrutinized by legal services and the commander.
“The idea is to allow victims, no matter what the circumstances, to able to report in a safe environment,” Staudenmaier said. “Where they are not worried about getting in trouble.”
Staudenmaier and her VVAs are also working different ways to further support victims of sexual assault by creating a support group.
“Right now, it’ll be just for women who have been survivors of sexual assault or harassment,” Staudenmaier said. “However, we are looking to expand on that, so right now it is in the beginning stages.”
With Staudenmaier and her team’s work in SAPR, they enable both the Department of Defense mission and Wolf Pack mission to enhance military readiness by preventing sexual assault and defending the base, respectively.
“This is something that impacts everyone whether we know it or not,” Staudenmaier said. “One in four women and one in six men are impacted by this and that is our military population. So, it’s a lot of people that we don’t necessarily ever know about because only about 30% of people will ever report that they were sexually assaulted. It’s a sad numbers game and we are doing our best to make a change.”
|Date Posted:||12.07.2022 02:55|
This work, SARC and VVAs continue to support Wolf Pack, new SAPR changes, by SrA Akeem Campbell, identified by DVIDS, must comply with the restrictions shown on https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.