By Lt. j.g. Ryan Kennedy, Region Legal Service Office Naval District Washington (RLSO NDW)
Members of Region Legal Service Office Naval District Washington (RLSO NDW) traveled to Naval Air Station Patuxent River (NAS Patuxent River) and provided a sexual assault prevention and response workshop exercise for members of Scientific Development Squadron One (VXS-1) on Feb. 13, 2015. The two-hour workshop helped fulfill the Navy’s important, continuing effort to prevent and respond to sexual assaults. During the workshop, VXS-1 walked through a fictional sexual assault and a subsequent restricted and unrestricted report. Enlisted members and officers in VXS-1 played character roles such as the commanding officer and the alleged offender, and they participated in roundtable discussions led by RLSO NDW judge advocates.
The workshop was designed by Lt. Joey Lonjers, staff judge advocate for NAS Patuxent River and the NAS Patuxent River sexual assault action team. Lt. Helen Teague, NAS Patuxent River sexual assault action officer, served as moderator for the event. Gloria Arteaga, sexual assault response coordinator for NAS Patuxent River, and Felicia Hoyle, victim’s advocate, also addressed workshop participants and helped facilitate group discussions. Other contributors to exercise materials included Naval Criminal Investigative Service, NAS Patuxent River Clinic and NAS Patuxent River volunteer, certified victim advocates. The VXS-1 command triad also participated in the roundtables, with the VXS-1 Commanding Officer Cmdr. John Buser addressing the command before and after the roundtable exercise.
During the workshop, Lt. Colin Hood, RLSO NDW, also addressed participants, describing for them the multiple legal options that the command would have after receiving a Report of Investigation following an unrestricted report of an alleged sexual assault.
“I always try to stress the fact that we are part of the Naval Legal SERVICE Command and that Region Legal Service Offices provide a lot more than just trial services,” said Hood. “Whether you need personal legal assistance, whether your command needs help with training, ethics, or installation issues, or whether your shop just wants another opinion on the legality of a [Course of Action], JAGs are always available to help you get your mission accomplished.”
The exercise was originally designed to test and educate command leadership on the issues involved with having a sexual assault at their command. RLSO NDW judge advocates were happy to help lead a larger exercise with the entire VXS-1 command when approached by command leadership with the idea of expanding the programming.
In anonymous surveys collected after the workshop exercise, members of VSX-1 reflected positively on the training exercise. “I loved the fact that a JAG was present in each group,” wrote one service member. “[They] gave great insight into what really happens[, and] they could speak from experience.”
“This training provides valuable insight as to what happens past the basic restrict/unrestricted training the Navy normally provides,” wrote another anonymous survey-taker and member of VSX-1 who participated in the exercise. “Awesome job!”