Community and Military CollaborationNevada
Nellis Air Force Base's Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) works closely with Southern Nevada's community- and government-based organizations to enhance responses to sexual violence.
Military members are often overlooked as part of the local community and need to be welcomed as strong, dependable volunteers. The goal of the collaboration between Nellis Air Force Base and civilian organizations is to influence and shape the direction of community programming to meet the needs of military members and to give voice to Nellis as a SART stakeholder with 60,000 potential beneficiaries. The collaboration is designed to
- Provide resources. The current rape crisis center provides valuable resources for the Nellis' Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office and military victims.
- Promote training. Nellis' advocates network and interact with other community volunteers and form cross-training partnerships between military and civilian responses.
- Facilitate information sharing. Information sharing results in practitioners knowing about resources that can be shared for planning and coordinating activities. The process enables Nellis Air Force Base and civilian organizations to be proactive versus reactive regarding intervention and prevention initiatives for sexual violence.
- Enhance the quality of service delivery. Nellis Air Force Base relies on civilian support groups, case management, and referrals for Nellis' victims. Nellis also provides core volunteers for Southern Nevada's rape crisis center.
Making the Idea a Reality
The SARC set up a meeting with key stakeholders (e.g., the district attorney's office, hospital or mental health provider, police department, rape crisis center). The key stakeholders shared information about their organizations and discussed common goals and values. The meeting was the first step in developing a coordinated service delivery to meet military victims' needs within the community and on the Air Force base.
Benefits to Victims
When civilian and military service providers work together, they can offer a customized response to victims based on their specific needs. For example, the rape crisis center started a support group for friends and families of victims as the direct result of a military referral to the center. In another case, the center referred a military victim to the SARC because her needs were primarily for military-based services. In addition, because Nellis Air Force Base provides a core of volunteers at the rape crisis center, military victims who may be wary of obtaining services off base may more readily accept civilian services when recommended by an Air Force volunteer.
Benefits to Victim Service Professionals
Nellis Air Force volunteers complete both the rape crisis center volunteer advocate training and the Air Force curriculum for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office victim advocates. This provides comprehensive professional development opportunities for advocates that translate into better services for victims. Additionally—
- Both the center and the Nellis Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program benefit directly from the free exchange of ideas and cooperative activities.
- Center staff train military volunteers and help with events on base, and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program has access to the center's roster of professional speakers to assist with the Air Force Base's training and public awareness initiatives.
- The collaboration has enabled Nellis' victim advocates and the SARC to work more effectively with metropolitan police, the district attorney, the health department, and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner programs off base and, in turn, these entities are more comfortable with Nellis.
Feedback from staff at the rape crisis center confirms that Nellis victim advocates are of high quality and that their participation has improved services for victims throughout the Las Vegas community.
- The combined efforts of civilian and military victim advocates provide noticeable cost savings in resources. For example, the Nellis Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office publishes materials for both the base's SARC and the rape crisis center. However, some resources and public awareness initiatives must be published or undertaken independently by both the civilian and military organizations.
- The SARC must always be aware of the legal liability that she and the organization assume when they join forces with a community organization. The SARC must take responsibility for educating military victim advocates on their roles, goals, and loyalties when serving both programs.
- Both victim advocates and the SARC must pace their involvement in community activities because of the potential for burnout.
Nellis Air Force Base
Nellis AFB, Nevada