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ViPER team bites into violence prevention

Man wearing mask

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Deter, 375th Operations Support Squadron, listens to the Violence Prevention, Execution and Resiliency team discussing training plans Nov. 9, 2020, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. Deter is wearing a “Let’s Talk” face mask, a new concept being tested across the Air Force in dealing with difficult issues – from race to suicide. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Greg Erwin)

Team meeting

Members of a newly created Violence Prevention, Execution and Resiliency team meet to discuss training plans Nov. 9, 2020, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. The ViPER team is targeting how we teach Airmen and civilians to handle someone who has thoughts of harming themselves or others. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Greg Erwin)

People listening

Members of a new Violence Prevention, Execution and Resiliency team meet to discuss training plans Nov. 9, 2020, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. The team consists of Airmen and civilians who are aiming to make a difference in violence prevention training across Team Scott. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Greg Erwin)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – To help the Air Force develop more interactive and engaging violence prevention training, Airmen at Scott have created the “ViPER” team.

ViPER stands for Violence Prevention, Execution and Resiliency, and the team is focused on ways to help make violence prevention training more interactive and engaging, compared to doing a computer-based training or PowerPoint once a year.

Led by Kirt Davis, 375th Air Mobility Wing violence prevention integrator and suicide prevention program manager, the team allows Airmen to “have a direct voice in a program that relates to them.”

“Prevention is a year-round process,” Davis said. “Certain months cover the higher attention points, but I want to make sure that we keep prevention at the forefront of everybody’s mind year-round.”

Major months of focus include Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention month in October, Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month in February, Child Abuse Prevention month in April, and Suicide Awareness month in September.

According to the 2019 annual Department of Defense report, the overall rate of suicides rose from 20.2 to 25.9 per 100,000 deaths from 2015 to 2019. The trend of continual rising numbers is also hitting home within the Air Force according to Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles ‘CQ’ Brown.

Davis said that getting help often comes with a bad stigma, and he hopes that they can alleviate that with the training that will be created from the ideas of the team.

“If leadership is not involved, then the Airmen will feel like ‘if they don’t care, why should I?’ If a leader comes to one of these events and can show how they have dealt with a major event, maybe an Airman who is going through the same thing is going to be more willing to talk about it.”

Davis said he hopes that people can bring their own personal experiences into the team meetings to help build a more targeted way of solving the issues.

“I want people to want to come to the training and be involved, so we can hopefully keep Scott Air Force Base free of violent incidents.”