Virginia Guard hosts SAPR Victim Advocate refresher training

The Virginia National Guard hosts more than 50 National Guard, Reserve and active duty Soldiers and Airmen from more than 15 states and territories for a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate refresher training course March 29, 2018, at the State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The 32-hour training focuses on victim advocacy, prevention and ethics and featured guest speakers from local, state and national agencies. (U.S. National Guard photo by A.J. Coyne)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Virginia National Guard hosted more than 50 National Guard, Reserve and active duty Soldiers and Airmen from more than 15 states and territories for a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate refresher training course March 27-30, 2018, at the State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The 32-hour training focuses on victim advocacy, prevention and ethics and featured guest speakers from local, state and national agencies.

“The purpose for continuing education is to increase the victim advocate’s ability to conduct crisis management and provide professional services to a victim of sexual assault,” said Henry Motley, the Virginia National Guard Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Coordinator. “We do this by increasing victim advocates’ knowledge of military and state resources such as victim witness protection programs, expedited transfer, retaliation and special victim counsel.”

In addition to participants from other states and territories, 24 Virginia National Guard Soldiers took part in the class. All of the participants were either victim advocates or sexual assault response coordinators for their states.

Guest speakers included someone from the special victim counsel, Virginia Victims Fund and a law enforcement representative.

One topic of discussion during the class was an upcoming event to raise awareness of sexual assault. The Virginia Guard is collaborating with West Virginia National Guard on a 350-mile bicycle ride from Pittsburgh to the Pentagon. Cycling Out Sexual Assault will be held May 9-13 and its aim is not only to raise awareness of sexual assault but to raise awareness of the SAPR program as a whole.

This course is one of two hosted each year by the Virginia National Guard. In addition to a course in March or April, another course is hosted in August. According to JoAnn Herren, the Virginia National Guard Victim Advocate Coordinator and Alternate Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Coordinator, the class is possible thanks to leaders from nearby states. National Guard SARCs and victim advocates from Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina provide staff support for the course.