Cadet Mental Health
We are increasingly concerned about cadet mental health during Covid. Cadets, especially 3 and 4 degrees, are isolated with few if any classes in-person. The cadet "buzz/rumor network" advises other cadets to 'not go to the Peak Performance Center (PPC/cadet counseling) or your chain of command'. This is not new to USAFA and a similar email regarding sexual assault resulted in the Congressional Fowler Commission investigating USAFA in 2003.
This is tied to AF medical board policy. In the past, Supt Jay Silveria supported and secured waivers to the commissioning medical board for at least five cadets. This was not enough to change cadet trust in the system. Distrust of mental health support is a perennial problem in the military.
We have been in contact with the AF surgeon General, Lt Gen Dorothy Hogg. In her (immediate) response to a member's letter, she noted that "we are working hard to educate that getting mental health will not disqualify you for any job unless it needs to i.e. it is severe enough or long lasting requiring intensive therapy."
Stories in the News
December 12, 2020 -- Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights -- Amanda Nguyen is a rape survivor who authored and ushered the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights through Congress in 2016, after having to navigate the broken criminal justice system herself. This federal law is one of only 21 bills, in modern history, to have passed unanimously through both chambers of Congress.
The law ensures survivors of sexual assault the right to have a rape kit preserved for the length of the case's statute of limitations, to be notified of an evidence kit's destruction, and to be informed about results of forensic exams. The law’s intent is to encourage assault reporting by reducing the burden on survivors and removing disheartening obstacles to justice. The federal law served as a model for 15 other laws protecting sexual violence survivors throughout the nation (the goal is passage in all 50 states and international implementation of the concept in law). Amanda is the founder and CEO of Rise Now, an organization that empowers citizens to pen their own rights into existence (as she did) by providing training, legislative networks, access to professional services such as lawyers, accountants and lobbyists, office space, and seed funding. Amanda is a full-time employee of NASA and is hoping to follow her dream to be an astronaut.
December 10, 2020 -- "Supreme Court overturns top military court, rules that rape cases before 2006 can be prosecuted" -- Caroline Kelly and Catherine Valentine write for CNN.
December 8, 2020 -- "Fourteen U.S. Army leaders fired or suspended at Fort Hood" -- Emma Platoff and Shawn Mulcahy write for the Texas Tribune about Fort Hood and the role of leadership and legislation in the prevention and response to sexual harassment.
July 7, 2020 -- "How to Sell Your Rape Story" -- Lacy Crawford is the author of the forthcoming memoir "Notes on a Silencing."
June 26, 2020 -- "The Woman Who Pioneered the Rape Kit" -- Reactions to an article in the NY Times about Marty Goddard, the woman who developed the Rape Kit.
March 2, 2020 -- "Guilty Verdict in Weinstein Trial a Victory for Survivors" -- RAINN reports the story as the high-profile case comes to a close.
January 10, 2020 -- "Will We Ever Figure Out How to Talk to Boys About Sex?" -- Peggy Orenstein, author of "Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent and Navigating the New Masculinity," writes for the New York Times.
December 2019 -- Jeff Holmquist wrote two feature articles ("A Prevention Puzzle" and "A Mission of Support") for Checkpoints, the AOG's official magazine, on sexual assault prevention and support for victims. The second article "A Mission of Support" centers on the efforts made by ZASA.
September 22, 2019 -- "It Will Always Be A Part of My Life" -- Chanel Miller discusses her book "Know My Name" in which she describes her sexual assault on the Stanford campus and how it has affected her life.
November 5, 2019 -- Military Times writer Haley Britzky, describes the alarming statistic reported by the Inspector General that more military members have PTSD from sexual assault trauma than combat trauma.
October 29, 2019 -- "I’m the Comedian Who Just Confronted Harvey Weinstein Here’s Why I Spoke Up" -- Comedian Kelly Bachman writes an opinion article to the New York Times about why she came forward about being sexually assaulted, and why she thinks you shouldn't have to.
September 18, 2019 -- "UTSA bans student-athletes with confirmed sexual misconduct" -- Associated Press
Six Men Tell Their Stories
September 10, 2019 -- In a New York Times article, author Dave Phillips and photographer Mary Calvert brilliantly capture what they can of the stories of six military men who came forward about being sexually assaulted. These military members were part of our Navy, Army, Air Force, and National Guard, and yet faced dehumanization and disrespect from their own. It is in stories that we see the true humanity of an issue, so we urge you to take the time to immerse yourself, and try to see through someone else's eyes.
#MeToo -- and Then what?
June 19, 2019 -- An Inside Higher Ed article in which Jay Silveria, the commander of the United States Air Force Academy, shares a process the military uses to support sexual assault survivors that civilian institutions might also find helpful. To do this, Silveria describes the organizational support system at the Academy and then considers the pros and cons of this approach. He parts with a plea for institutions to come together to share both successes and failures in survivor support, because despite the additional pressures this will place on an institution, such actions could have a life-changing impact on the survivors.
Enhanced Access, Acknowledge, Act (EAAA) Program
USAFA has started a new prevention/awareness program for women. Over half of the incoming freshmen women will receive the training. EAAA was developed in Canada and has been implemented on many campuses under the name “Flip the Script”. Research shows it reduced sexual victimization of women by over 40%. Here is the website for more information on the program. The program is still in a test phase. Results are promising and we hope to have a decision about its future implementation soon.