JBSA SAPR advocacy team seeks volunteer victim advocates

  • Published
  • By Rachel Kersey
  • 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Joint Base San Antonio Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Advocacy Center is looking for compassionate active duty military personnel and Department of Defense civilian employees to serve as volunteer victim advocates.

“The SAPR program is our community’s response to people affected by sexual assault,” said Felicia McCollum, JBSA SAPR Advocates Program director. “Victims of sexual assault can lose faith in society and faith in people can be tremendously diminished. Volunteer victim advocates help to restore that faith.”

Volunteer victim advocates, or VVAs, assist in a couple of different ways.

When a service member is sexually assaulted, VVAs provide crisis intervention, referrals and ongoing non-clinical support. They provide victims with information on available options and resources to assist them in making informed decisions about their case. VVAs continue to provide support until the victim states that support is no longer needed.

The VVAs serve on all JBSA installations. Right now, there are only 30 VVAs, and that number is always fluctuating because advocates are assigned to temporary duty, deployments, permanent change of station moves and myriad other personal life factors.

The SAPR needs 50 to 60 advocates and is currently operating at a deficit of 20 to 30 advocates.

“We are looking for caring, compassionate, dedicated people who have a desire to provide support to people at what is likely the most difficult and vulnerable time of their lives,” McCollum said.

In order to become a VVA, a volunteer must complete an application that requires supervisor- and command-level approval.

After that, a person must submit to a background check. If the background check is successful, advocates must complete a 40-hour training class to be certified by the National Organization for Victim Assistance.

Successful volunteers must commit to serving at least one year as a VVA, and every two years, they also must complete 32 hours of continuing education.

“Helping people in their hour of need is incredibly rewarding,” McCollum said. “We absolutely could not accomplish our mission without VVAs!”

For more information, visit https://www.jbsa.mil/Resources/Resiliency/Sexual-Assault-Prevention-and-Response/Victim-Advocate/ or call 210-808-8990.

To complete an application, visit https://www.jbsa.mil/Portals/102/Name-%20Application.pdf.

Applications should be turned in at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston at 3555 Patch Road, room R212, San Antonio, Texas 78234.