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From Reaction to Resilience: Barksdale Air Force Bases New Approach to Addressing Interpersonal and Self-Directed Violence

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nicole Ledbetter
  • 2BW/PA

The base is shifting its focus from a reactive approach to a proactive stance in addressing issues related to interpersonal and self-directed violence.

The initiative stems from a Department of Defense directive and established after an independent review committee's evaluation of sexual assault prevention and response measures.

The evaluation led to the consolidation of two distinct roles: the violence prevention integrator and the community support coordinator. The now singular entity is known as the Integrated Resilience Office.

The IRO’s purpose is to streamline efforts for a more coordinated approach to addressing interpersonal and self-directed violence, including suicide prevention and domestic violence.

“We deal a lot with what happens after someone does something like domestic violence, sexual assault, DUI, and we deal with the aftermath of it,” said Jeff Maiette, director of integrated prevention and response at the IRO. “With more focus on primary prevention, you're trying to prevent those incidents from happening through a variety of means. Identifying the major issues at our installation and focusing program training and messaging on attacking those problems.”

Maria Even, the integrated prevention chief at the IRO, emphasized that the IRO aims to empower individuals with essential skills and resources to handle stressors, communicate effectively, and develop resilience, thereby reducing the likelihood of incidents.

“It is mostly programming, coordinating, collaborating, planning, and getting people to the different helping agency representatives to collaborate and implement an action component," said Even. “So it could be PowerPoint, a conversation, or we might do an initiative with roleplay. In the past, we've done things like signs, at different well-trafficked locations on the installation that say, ‘You matter’ or ‘Smile'. Those kinds of things are still prevention actions because they might change somebody's day for the better.”

While staffing is still underway, the IRO’s ability to fully implement its goals is still pending. Hiring the right individuals with the necessary expertise remains a priority to ensure the IRO's success. The Prevention Analyst position, which will play a crucial role in data collection and analysis to inform evidence-based prevention initiatives, is one of the positions that Even and Maiette said they are excited to hire.

“It's someone that is going to dig in, do spreadsheets, do some research and look at programs, look at trends and things like that and come back and say, hey, here's what we need to look at, here are the issues we should be focused on,” said Maiette.

As the IRO takes its initial steps, it is poised to become a turning point for how the Air Force deals with interpersonal and self-directed violence. It signifies a shift in the Air Force's approach to safeguarding its personnel and creating a culture of resilience.