Victim advocates give care for sexual assault victims

There are many programs the military offers to its members to take care of their financial, health, spiritual and mental wellness.

But what happens when an Airman becomes a victim of sexual assault? Due to annual training, most know to call the sexual assault response coordinator, or SARC, for help. But how much help can one person give when there are more than 6,000 service members on Offutt?

In the fall of 2005, the SARC instituted the Victim Advocate Program, which educates volunteers through specific training to help sexual assault victims, said Jennifer McCabe, 55th Wing SARC.

Until recently, Offutt had more than 30 victim advocates available to assist commanders and their units with SARC annual training as well as providing support and comfort to all sexual assault victims, she said.

"Due to many of our current victims advocates PCSing, being sent on temporary duty assignments, separating and retiring we are in need of more volunteers," Ms. McCabe said.

A VA takes care of the victim. A VA meets the victim, talks with them and makes sure the victim is alright. It's all about letting the victim know that they are not alone and that the VA is there for them any time, day or night. A VA will assist a victim until they are able to get back to a functioning state.

The ultimate goal of the program is to have at least one victim's advocate available from each unit, said Ms. McCabe. VAs are a resource for commanders and are very helpful in giving mandatory annual SARC briefings to their units. "We can always use more SARC VAs," Ms. McCabe said.

If a person wants to volunteer,l they simply contact the SARC office at 232-9999.

"Hopefully, no Offutt Airman has to go through the ordeal of sexual assault, but if they do, we want them to be able to rest assured there are qualified victim advocates on Offutt that are available for support and nurturing," Ms. McCabe said.