Over the past two years, the South Dakota and Wyoming National Guards have piloted a new sexual assault response training program.
The Buddy Aid training program was developed by Major Bridget Flannery of the South Dakota National Guard after witnessing sexual violence in Afghanistan in 2013.
The program has been submitted to the Warrior Resilience and Fitness Innovation Incubator (WRFII), which identifies and selects programs available for all states.
Wyoming National Guard Master Sgt. Rebecca Motley brought the Army Guard Pilot Program in 2019. She said she was very impressed with the training and felt the Wyoming National Guard needed it.
“Because we do a very good job in the SHARP (Sexual Harassment / Assault Response and Prevent) and SAPR (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response) programs the separate programs of teaching the consequences of your actions, which actions might be a problem, how to report sexual harassment and assault, “she said.” But we didn’t really or at the time covered much of the response. “
The goal is for soldiers to be able to react and get help when someone reveals an assault. The training takes place in small groups, which Motley says allows for conversation.
âWe are changing the culture, building relationships and building trust,â Motley said. “And so we’re seeing revelations of trauma, not necessarily the sexual trauma, but we’re seeing a lot of activity coming out of those formations.”
So far, she said they have trained over 800 soldiers. Data from the past two years shows a 99% confidence level in soldiers’ perception that sexual assault is the greatest threat.
The training was not done in the Air National Guard. Motley said it was because it was not approved for the Air Force in 2019, but they are now trying to train. The Air National Guard is where whistleblowers have complained about the mismanagement of reporting and sexual assault.
Marilyn Burden, who served in the Wyoming Air National Guard for 17 years and spoke about the toxic culture and the guard’s lack of appropriate response regarding reports of sexual assault.
“I appreciate new ideas and techniques to combat and reduce sexual harassment and sexual assault. If this program is effective it will have a positive impact on custody and communities,” Burden said in response to the announcement. of the Buddy Aid training program. .
The program will continue to expand and standardize training nationally.