Donna Striks, left, personnel security manager at Air Force Life Management Center and 2nd Lt. Rachel Mannix, second from right, work on self-defense techniques Monday during a week long training program for faculty and airmen in sexual assault defense tactics in Dayton, Ohio. (Lisa Powell / The Dayton Daily News via AP)
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DAYTON, OHIO — In response to calls to improve the military’s handling of sexual-assault issues, 90 service members at an Ohio Air Force Base are being given self-defense training and will in turn instruct their colleagues.
The training at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton is part of the effort to re-emphasize the culture of respect and dignity in the service amid pressure to improve the military’s response to sexual assault issues, said Col. Cassie Barlow, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at the base.
The 90 Air Force members, along with 10 employees of nearby Wright State University, are taking the self-defense training from martial arts teachers, according to the Dayton Daily News.
Barlow said those trainees will then be certified for a two-year period to instruct their colleagues.
“It’s much more than just a self-defense program,” Barlow said. “There’s the physical side of it, but also a mental and psychological side.”
“It hits all the things in the research like resiliency, assertiveness, self-confidence and situational awareness,” Barlow said.
Second Lt. Coraviece Terry said serving in the military with so many men can give some women “a sense of defeatedness,” so she was glad to participate and hopes to help train others.
“I think this will definitely give me a sense of confidence, knowing that I have the knowledge to protect myself if I’m attacked,” Terry said.
America’s military has been under pressure in the past year to improve its handling of sexual-assault issues. President Barack Obama told military leaders they had one year to “step up their game exponentially” in both prevention of and response to sexual assault cases.