U.S. Air Force Using VR For Sexual Assault Prevention Training

Members of the Air Force will train in intervention skills, victim advocacy, and reporting protocols.

Award-winning VR company Moth + Flame is partnering with the United States Air Force to deploy a VR training program for members of the Air Force in sexual assault prevention and response training (SAPR).

The program, which was introduced to the Airman at Joint Base Charleston, SC, is broken down into three parts and explores multiple angles of a complex issue. This includes intervention skills, victim advocacy, and reporting protocols. 

The announcement of this new VR training couldn’t have come at a more crucial time. According to a recently published report by the Department of Defense, the Air Force received a total of 1,661 reports of sexual assault in 2020.

Image Credit: United States Air Force

Partnering with Moth + Flame, the Air Force will utilize VR technology to employ an empathy-building immersive experience designed to simulate realistic conversations using natural language processing technology.

“We take a great deal of pride in helping the armed forces develop smarter, safer, and more responsive teams through immersive training,” said Kevin Cornish, CEO and Founder of Moth + Flame, in an official press release. “This is such an important issue, and by bringing people into environments where they have to confront difficult situations, we can help prepare them for when these scenarios arise in the real world. The Air Force has been a tremendous partner in working with us to address these complex and serious issues head-on with training that improves how people respond to these types of situations.”

Image Credit: United States Air Force

According to the press release, Moth + Flame’s VR training modules will include the following scenarios, each of which designed specifically for the U.S. Air Force:

  • Two 30-minute role-play scenarios intended for all Air Force personnel in which the group helps a victim of sexual assault connect with appropriate resources as well as practice bystander intervention skills.
  • One 30-minute role-play scenario intended for Volunteer Victim Advocates who provide immediate and ongoing support to victims with resources and information regarding care and reporting options to improve their interaction skills.
  • One 30-minute role-play scenario intended for Squadron Leadership to correctly apply Air Force guidance when confronted with evidence of a sexual assault in the workplace.
Image Credit: United States Air Force

Members of the Air Force will go through a 2-hour training program during which they’ll be taught how to handle these difficult conversations, including the exact wording to use and mannerisms to employ.

In the same press release, Air Mobility Command Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Program Manager Carmen Schott said, “The future of sexual assault prevention and response training should be innovative and creative. VR as a training tool puts Airmen into real-world life situations where they can build knowledge, skills, and abilities.” 

Content for the VR training modules was developed in conjunction with Air Mobility Command’s Integrated Resiliency Team—a division of the Air Force focused on supporting Airmen and members of the U.S. Space Force along with their families—to thrive by offering leadership tools for crisis prevention, intervention, and postvention. 

Moth + Flame CEO Kevin Cornish. / Image Credit: United States Air Force

“Through experiencing SAPR training in the virtual world the Airmen have to be present and connected to the experience,” added Schott. “Our mission is to collect relevant data to show that Airmen prefer this type of training over normal classroom training and that we can track to see that they enhance comprehension of key sexual assault reporting options and resources to better equip them to intervene and help other Airmen in need.”

“We want to show that this type of training is not only relevant but effective in educating our Airmen on sexual assault prevention and response reporting options and resources.”

Moth + Flame logo. / Image Credit: Moth + Flame

The contract for this VR training was awarded by AFVentures’ AFWERX Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. This latest project follows on a well-received 30-minute VR pilot training program Moth + Flame recently completed at Sacramento’s Travis Air Force Base which revolved around military suicide prevention.

Moth + Flame’s SAPR training is expected to be deployed at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas later this summer.

Click here to learn more about Moth + Flame and their work.

Feature Image Credit: Moth + Flame

About the Scout

Bobby Carlton

Hello, my name is Bobby Carlton. When I'm not exploring the world of immersive technology, I'm writing rock songs about lost love. I'd also like to mention that I can do 25 push-ups in a row.

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