The newly released results of the Defense Department’s 2014 sexual assault prevalence survey show the Air Force is “moving in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go,” Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer told Air Force Magazine. And, the independent Rand Corp. study showed the Air Force’s efforts are bearing fruit, but also highlighted the problem of retaliation—professional or personal—against victims, said Spencer in a Dec. 8 interview. “The number of folks that reported that there is some retaliation involved and associated with reporting was disturbing to me personally,” he said. Everything from peer gossip to supervisors taking professional revenge fell under the survey’s definition of “retaliation,” said Spencer, so he “pressed the RAND folks who did the study to see if I could get a little more detail.” Anecdotally, airmen said the problem is “‘not so much my commander or my first sergeant,'” but mid-level bosses who may happen to be friends of the accused taking it out on victims, he recounted. The issue appears to be defense-wide, and Air Force officials are “already moving” on ways to increase mid-level supervisor education and accountability in line with DOD efforts, said Spencer. “We’re really digging into that, because, obviously, retaliation is something that we can’t accept,” he added.
May 20, 2022