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379th ECES SAPR Reps stand for change

The 379th ECES SAPR program has the largest number of SAPR representatives in any unit on base, with 34 members.

U.S. Air Force members of the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program pose for a photo in front of the 379th ECES SAPR “T-Wall” on April 29, 2021 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The 379th ECES SAPR program has the largest number of SAPR representatives in any unit on base, with 34 members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kylee Gardner)

The 379th ECES SAPR program has the largest number of SAPR representatives in any unit on base, with 34 members.

The U.S. Air Force 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program “T-Walls” are displayed in front of their building April 29, 2021 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The 379th ECES SAPR program T-Wall has hand prints and names of every current and former 379th ECES SAPR program representative member. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kylee Gardner)

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --

Sexual assault and harassment can be emotionally devastating and unjust, but the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Representative Program trains Airmen, who volunteer, how to assist victims if an incident has been reported to them.

Here at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron has the largest group of SAPR representatives on base, with 34 members.

“When I arrived here in January, I had heard about the rep program and asked the question ‘how can my unit be a part of this?’”, said Master Sgt. Salaam Harris, 379th ECES first sergeant. “After asking members of my squadron if they’d be interested, I had a flood of responses from Airmen wanting to become a rep. From that point, I knew we had a chance to build this program within our unit and truly make a change for the better.”

This team knew that part of building their program would not just consist of recruiting new members, but also helping their unit feel comfortable coming to them if they need to report an incident.

“Having SAPR reps within your unit is very important,” said Harris. “In the case that an Airman is assaulted or harassed, it’s likely they’ll feel more comfortable going to someone around the same rank as them who they work with on a daily basis, rather than going to an officer at the SAPR office who they may have never even met before.”

For that reason, the team strives to make themselves known and available within their squadron.

“Our goal is to help our unit know exactly who their SAPR reps are,” said Harris. “One thing we’ve been doing is sending out an email to the squadron with a picture and basic info about one of our reps every week. From doing this, our unit has more of an understanding of who these reps are and possibly feel more comfortable with anything they may want to report.”

To become a rep, volunteers must complete a training course, as well as coordinate and disseminate information with the SAPR office. However, for the 379th ECES, this role is more than just an additional duty or their name on a piece of paper.

“Part of our responsibilities, is educating our unit on how to report any incidents, what the process is like once they do report, who is a confidential reporter and who is not, etc…,” said Senior Airman Claudia Luca, 379th ECES SAPR representative program president. “For me though, this role is so much more than just providing information.”

Luca explained that at her job prior to joining the military, she witnessed a lot of sexual harassment and assault, but didn’t have an agency that she could report to. So, once she joined the U.S. Air Force and found out about the SAPR office, she immediately wanted to be a part of the team that helped victims.

“The culture behind sexual assault or harassment in the workplace is something that needs to be changed,” said Luca. “In order to make change, you have to be proactive. Of course, I wanted improvement and to see victims get the help they deserve, but that’s not something you can just wish to come true. You have to put in work to see that change, and for me, becoming a SAPR rep was how I could do that.”

If you are interested in becoming a SAPR representative within your unit or would like to learn about how to get in contact with a representative, please call the SAPR office at DSN 455-4426/4427 or email 379AEW.SARC@auab.afcent.af.mil.