Air Guard victim advocate strives for safe space for those who need help
Story by Stephanie Beougher, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs
MANSFIELD, Ohio (04/01/21)
Senior Master Sgt. Brianne Forrester has been a member of the Ohio Air National Guard for nearly 15 years and a Sexual Assault Prevention & Response (SAPR) program victim advocate for the 200th RED HORSE (Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineers) Squadron, based in Port Clinton, Ohio and with a detachment in Mansfield, since 2019.
“I advocate for our victims of sexual assault and provide a safe space for them. I am there to listen and help support them,” Forrester said.
She is currently filling in as the sexual assault response coordinator for the 179th Airlift Wing.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM).
The Ohio National Guard Sexual Assault Prevention & Response (SAPR) program provides tools and resources to help prevent the occurrence of sexual assaults, while also protecting the rights and dignity of victims. This month, to highlight the work of the SAPR program, we will be featuring Airmen and Soldiers who serve as victim advocates and sexual assault response coordinators.
“Brianne has hit the ground running. In her very short time being here she has created a newsletter for the SAPR office, which we never had before. She has created numerous documents that allow us to be more organized,” said Lt. Col. Kelly Shifflet, deputy mission support group commander at the 179th. “I am just very impressed with her as a person, an employee and a champion for the SAPR program. She cares about the job, the people and takes care of business.”
Forrester said she became a victim advocate to make sure her fellow Airmen know what kind of behavior is acceptable and, if they ever are put in a situation, there’s someone to turn to who is trained and ready to help.
“This office exists to protect them and be there for them if anything were to happen, and give them a confidence to do their best in their job,” Forrester said.
She added that everyone has a role to play in creating a respectful and safe environment. “Our Airmen need to stand up and speak out when they think they see something wrong with a situation,” she said. “We need to treat each other with respect all of the time.”
Victim advocates and sexual assault response coordinators like Forrester are working tirelessly to encourage every Guard member to end sexual assault and to support survivors by providing prevention education and survivor empowerment information.