Veterans on SA Training in the Military: Teddy Lee (Part 3)
Teddy Lee is currently the President of TUJ’s Student Government. He was in the Navy for 9 years, and was kind enough to candidly answer our questions and give us his thoughts on the Sexual Assault (SA) training that he received while serving in the military, as well as offer some advice for TUJ.
Where did you serve and for how long?
I was in the Navy for 9 years overall. In Kings Bay, Georgia, and Yokosuka, Japan.
What kind of sexual assault prevention training did you receive?
The sexual assault based training wasn’t computer based. We had what was known as GMT's (general military training), which were mandatory trainings in the form of PowerPoint slides. The training was given by a command representative; usually more senior personnel, that had specific training in the area (in this case, Sexual Assault). As I was able to see the program change over time, I recall the SA training was similar [to the GMT] although they tried to be more progressive to some extent.
Who was the training focused on?
The focus of the training was on the resources you had, [if a] case of SA [were to occur], and the different reporting procedures and support [available]. They would start off with “what is SA” with an emphasis on “don't do it,” and then how it affects everyone around you. You were to consider beyond yourself, your family, ship readiness, and overall safety of others.
How much did you retain?
I’d like to say most of it. It was repetitive. I give meaning to things as a person, so even if the information doesn’t pertain to me, I identify myself with it because there's always something to learn.
How often did you receive SA training?
At least twice a year. However, there were reactionary trainings by the commander when incidents occurred. It was redundant to an extent, because SA was so prevalent [and as a result, there were more training sessions].
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?
It was always a mass training. GMT was required for the whole boat or command, and everyone would attend. Those on watch, would receive a make-up training at a later time. Accountability was marked by visual verification of each division or department through “muster” to be updated to “big Navy,” and those who missed training at the designated time, would receive make-up training at the end of the fiscal year.
How helpful do you think the training was for you personally? How about for your peers?
For me, it wasn’t helpful because I was being told what I already knew not to do. But it was up to me to hold my sailors to the same standard.
However, overall, I think it was helpful for everybody. Integrity was something my command emphasized. Do the right thing, always. With that, we had to hold each other accountable, so we all had to know how to handle a situation if a situation were to occur.
What do you think could have been improved on in the training the military gave you when you were on active duty? (This could be for your personal benefit, or the benefit of others based on your observation of their opinions and retention).
SA in itself is a touchy subject. It’s all about how a person takes the content of the training. When we’re given training to this large of an extent, it’s kind of like people are saying that we are the problem. And if we’re accused as such, we don’t take it as seriously.
If we were able to create some kind of training where people can identify with the situation themselves, that would be helpful.
In Yokosuka, it was a little different from Georgia because it was a bigger place. Instead of just the PowerPoint from SAPR, they had the time to create plays. [Those in SAPR] themselves, wanted to create the message.
SAPR the acronym itself has changed overtime, from SARC (Sexual Assault Response Coordinator). It’s essentially the same program, but with a little more added to it.
Currently, TUJ is promoting assault and harassment awareness in multiple ways. What you think is working and what is not?
In most cases, things are working more than things are not working. It’s great that we’re bringing awareness to stuff in general, but not all students are aware of the message. To them, there’s no purpose because out of the blue, they just see these posters and think to themselves, “why”? I don’t know to what extent the student population is aware of what is actually going on behind the posters.
Because the posters were so sudden, I think people would feel attacked by them, to some extent. I don’t know, I haven’t seen all of the posters , but I assume that most are focused on men [as perpetrators]. So taking those two together, [for many men] it’s like, “oh, damn.”
For me, I might not take any offense to it. But if we’re trying to send out a message while making people feel like they’re being attacked, I think the message will get lost.
Does the training you received align with what TUJ is currently promoting?
All the information is similar [as compared to TUJ’s online SA module]. It makes sense because I believe that the military is a guinea pig for programs on a mass base like this, anyway. However, the information must adapt with what we continue to learn about the world, as we continue to grow.
Do you think the way TUJ is addressing sexual assault is helpful for the student body? In regards to retention? Impact?
I didn’t think much of the online test, but if I had to pick, I don’t think that it helped much. It was an obligation. The information was good but didn't pertain to me because I don’t go out and seek stuff like that.
When things are obligatory, how serious are people taking it? If you memorize things just to dump it afterwards.
What does training do to you besides give you some information that you don’t care about? It’ll bring awareness to the situation, but I don’t think it changes the person.
However, [the online training helps] people become more aware of the information. If you don’t practice these things already, you don’t think twice about it.
It’s not enough for us to ignore people who are doing things that are obnoxious. I was made aware of a situation that happened in a class [not SA but a situation that made others uncomfortable], and I was surprised that there wasn’t more brought up about it. To me, that’s passive. It’s the professor’s responsibility, however, that’s where it gets really iffy.
The people that talked to me about [the incident] knew that it happened, but it’s also important for students to know that they can talk to the student responsible [without the professor present]. If students don’t speak up when [incidents] happen, it may seem like what happened was acceptable. The “bystander effect;” where they think the professor may handle it after class or something, but I think that the students should think that it’s okay for them to address the issue on their own. They should also be aware that they could bring in a mediator, because it makes everyone uncomfortable, not just whoever it’s directed at.
Overall, I believe that it's not just TUJ's responsibility, but the student body’s responsibility [to step in] as well. By this, I mean that we should take a more direct approach to call people out when they are infringing. Ask questions, like “why do you think that’s okay?” If we hold people accountable, and are willing to have dialogue on why things “aren’t okay”, we could cultivate a safe environment for communication.
Hikari interviewed Teddy in person, and would like to thank him for contributing to this series. I want to also thank Ted, for his candor and honesty about what many people at school are likely thinking, but too scared to voice in public.
Keep an eye out every Monday, for a new installment of this six part series!
Click here to read a little bit more about why we decided to do these interviews.