JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska –
This year the Alaska National Guard’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program underwent a Site Assessment and Assistance Visit for the first time, May 23 – 26.
Still relatively new, the SAAV consists of officials from the National Guard Bureau’s Compliance and Accountability Branch who visit each SAPR program of the National Guard in the 54 states and territories. The officials have on-site discussions with SAPR staff identifying best practices as well as areas for continued improvement.
Ashley Shelton, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for JFHQ, has worked in the SAPR program space for nine years, and she described the visit as a basis for discourse rather than a graded inspection.
“The SAAV gives our program a fresh set of eyes and perspectives we can incorporate,” said Shelton. “They look at what we’re doing well, where can we improve, and what we can share in the field with other SAPR programs.”
During this visit, the AKNG staff highlighted some of the more innovative methods within the program, such as an interactive QR code that brings the user to a comprehensive list of resources. The staff was also recognized for their collaboration with the Department of Psychological Health, the agency that receives the victim’s clinical safety assessment.
“The SAAV did a great job of letting us know what works,” Shelton said of their best practices. “We have been working really hard towards expanding our reach and being more and more effective.”
Throughout the visit the NGB officials assessed the capabilities of the program and, in turn, the AKNG staff capitalized on the opportunity to establish professional relationships within the field.
“Being able to talk and learn from each other is critical in what we do,” said Shelton. “It takes a lot of communication and things like the SAAV continues to strengthen our network. Instead of being something to stress about we see it as another resource for our program.”
At the conclusion of the visit, the program received both positive and constructive feedback for staff to incorporate into their program moving forward.
“It was a great opportunity to share our knowledge and also learn the latest in how to be most effective in our mission,” said Loren Dinolfo, Victim Advocate Coordinator for JFHQ. “Overall, we did very well during the SAAV, and the more we can communicate with the NGB and other programs, the more effective we can be for our Airmen and Soldiers.”