167th holds Wingman Day, SAPR stand-down

Col. Shaun Perkowski, the 167th Airlift Wing commander, address the wing during its Wingman Day and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response stand-down day, Aug. 2. Perkowski addressed the need for continued emphasis on preventing and identifying perpetrators and the impact that sexual assault has on mission effectiveness. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Dickson.)

Col. Shaun Perkowski, the 167th Airlift Wing commander, address the wing during its Wingman Day and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response stand-down day, Aug. 2. Perkowski addressed the need for continued emphasis on preventing and identifying perpetrators and the impact that sexual assault has on mission effectiveness. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Dickson.)

Martinsburg W.Va. -- The 167th Airlift Wing held a Wingman Day and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response stand-down Saturday, Aug. 2.

This year's Wingman Day was held in coordination with an Air Force-mandated, annual safety stand-down.

While the wing has held all three events in the past, this year all three were combined into one day to maximize training potential. Airmen received training on various topics to include: resiliency, workplace incident prevention, sexual assault prevention and response and general safety tips. Also, wing members were asked to break into small groups with trained facilitators to discuss various scenarios and address issues or concerns that they may have.

According to Capt. Christopher Tusing, the wing executive staff officer and sexual assault response coordinator, the SAPR training, which is geared toward educating Airmen about sexual assault, its effects, and their reporting options, is entering its third iteration and is constantly being retooled and improved upon. Prior to the SAPR program, all wing members went through bystander intervention training as a yearly requirement.

"Even while we were getting ready to execute our stand-down for this year, the model for next year was already changing," Tusing said. "It will now be interwoven with the wing's total ancillary training plan and broken down into multiple, smaller blocks and sessions."

In addition to the various Department of Defense and Air Force mandated training items, the West Virginia state adjutant general, Maj. General James Hoyer, mandated that all military personnel in the state were required to watch the documentary "The Invisible War."

The film, which was directed by Kirby Dick, tells the story of current and former United States military personnel who are survivors of sexual violence.

Tusing hopes that watching the film, which at times can be critical of how the military has historically handled sexual violence in the past, opens the eyes of every Airman to see why this type of training is important.

"[The film] paints an accurate portrait of the struggle that our survivors have had," Tusing said. "It shows where we were at and where we are going now to improve and to provide support for our survivors."

According to Tusing, while reporting of sexual violence has gone up the past several years, it doesn't mean that attacks have increased.

"Now, survivors have awareness of their options through venues like this training and the SAPR program," Tusing said. "They have means to identify, report, and most importantly, take a proactive position on their personal path to recovery from victim to survivor and get access to the resources that they deserve," Tusing said.

In addition to the SAPR training that was held, Airman also participated in safety and resilience training as part of the wingman day and an Air National Guard mandated safety stand-down.

According to Lt. Col. Jonathan McCullough, the wingman day side of Saturday's training was all about being a good wingman and keeping focused on completing the mission.

"We all have our own problems and distractions," McCullough said. "Wingman day is a reminder that we have to be vigilant, look out for ourselves and our coworkers while performing the mission."

This year's theme for wingman day was mission focus for mishap prevention. Unit members were trained on preventing workplace mishaps by focusing on the task at hand.

By learning to cope with outside stressors, Airmen are better able to focus on the task at hand and are less likely to cause or be a part of a workplace mishap, McCullough said.
 
"We spent nearly half a billion dollars Air Force-wide in the past four years on workplace mishaps," McCullough said. "Some of the main contributing factors come from fatigue, being complacent, loss of focus and distractions."

While there were many sides to this year's wingman day, the end goal of all the training was to increase mission effectiveness and overall wing safety and morale.