Veterans on SA Training in the Military: Bobby Maxwell (Part 6)
Bobby Maxwell is the Vice President of TUJ’s Veteran’s club. He was in the Navy for 11 years, and was kind enough to answer our questions on the SA training he received as well as provide useful input on TUJ’s efforts on SA awareness.
Where did you serve and for how long?
I was in the Navy for 11 years. During this time, I was stationed on 3 ships in Yokosuka.
What kind of sexual assault prevention training did you receive?
I was a supervisor so I received 2 levels of training-- SAPR and another, a kind of special supervisor training. I applied for SAVI (triage report givers), but got declined. The biggest thing I learned from [my] leadership [position]; how your leadership actually applied the training was the biggest determinant of how effective the training would be.
Why did you apply for SAVI?
I like helping people, that’s why I applied for SAVI.
How much did you retain?
Very little. I had gotten training previously. I was 22 when I joined the military but I had workplace experience before, so I was able to determine what is and is not appropriate behavior.
How often did you receive SA training?
SAPR was required by law annually, the Navy took a very heavy stock in it.
In what capacity did you receive this training? i.e. were you alone, in a group and if so what kind of group? Mixed gender, small, large, divided by rank or something else?
Baseline classroom version of SAPR training was done by an external expert; all hands included. I sat next to my captain during one session. This format seemed more effective.
As I became a middle management supervisor (Leading Petty Officer), we had additional training for leaders.
There was no division in gender. The Navy took pains in inverting gender stereotypes [in it’s training materials].
How helpful do you think the training was for you personally? How about for your peers?
In the military there was a bit of a culture-- it’s better now. I joined in the post-9/11 Navy. Because the Navy had already integrated a lot of its ships far ahead of other services, their training in the practices started from the day I was in bootcamp. One of the mandatory classes had to do with sexual assault directly. Even if you work with that person [perpetrator or victim] you don’t bring it into that space-- [there’s a] separation of work and life.
One of the things I can say is that my first ship was all male. There were incidents of male on male assaults and they were handled quickly and fiercely. Both parties always disappeared.
The practice of the Navy was to move the alleged victimizer and victim to two separate spaces (different ships/units, usually). This did two things. 1) protected the victim from revictimization, and 2) protected the accused of any kind of command bias while they were there. As heinous as these issues are, everyone has a right to due process. Everyone needs to be treated fairly, and the military is very harsh on these cases.
The Vets club tries to act as a positive influence to everyone on the campus. We’re all a little bit older, perhaps a little more mature; even though that can be a negative term. We can offer experiences. If things get bad with one of our members we can make sure to take it up with the appropriate people. We do, currently. [This reply came up after we asked Bobby how he thinks other veterans might have retained their training].
What do you think could have been improved on in the training the military gave you when you were an officer? (This could be for your personal benefit, or the benefit of others based on your observation of their opinions and retention).
I don’t think computer-based training at all is effective. Personally. At least in the military training, it was a little cartoonish. The plays would be reenactments and more useful.
Currently, TUJ is promoting assault and harassment awareness in multiple ways, let us know what you think is working and what is not. Does the training you received align with what TUJ is currently promoting? Do you think the way TUJ is addressing sexual assault is helpful for the student body? In regards to retention? Impact?
I think that the actual appointment of a Title IX coordinator is something [TUJ has a “Deputy” Title IX Coordinator]. Something is better than nothing, and I think they picked the right person for the job. I am confident in her capacity of doing it. You really see how these things go only when an incident occurs. When something happens, that will be the real judge of how effective what the school is doing actually is.
As for the veteran’s club, we are trying to police within ourselves as well.
The online training didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. You need to uncouple the alcohol training with the sexual assault training. They’re a little strange. I don’t know what else to say. The biggest things were that they kind of mash everything together when there were very discrete issues brought up in chronological continuity of each other. The flow of harassment just didn’t make sense.
Hikari and Lily interviewed Bobby in person and would like to thank his assistance in this piece, especially in regards to his honest answers and feedback on TUJ’s initiatives. We also admire his efforts in the Veteran’s club at TUJ.
This was the final installment of this six part series! We would like to thank everybody who contributed to this project. Keep an eye out on Thursday, for a reflection written by Lily.
Click here to read a little bit more about why we decided to do these interviews.