Fort Bragg is home to a new study that addresses sexual assault and high-risk drinking in male Soldiers between the ages of 18 and 24.
Lindsay Orchowski, staff psychologist at Rhode Island Hospital and assistant professor at Brown University; Cristobal S. Berry-Caban, senior scientist in Womack Army Medical Center’s Department of Clinical Investigation; and Donna Kazemi, associate professor at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, are the principal investigators for the study. They are working in collaboration with Alan D. Berkowtiz, a consultant and subject matter expert for sexual assault prevention for the military.
“The big picture issue is that the military, like the civilian world, has a problem with sexual assault and wants to prevent it and also some Soldiers have problems with alcohol. The Army is putting a lot of effort into addressing both of those problems,” Berkowtiz said.
The four-year study, which was funded by a $3 million dollar award by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, began in January with phase one of the three-phase project.
“The end goal is to develop and evaluate a sexual assault prevention program for male Soldiers who engage in at-risk drinking behavior,” Orchowski said. “An important component of advancing the science of sexual assault prevention is not assuming that what works in other populations is going to also work here. Setting out to have a strategic ground up approach, to first understand what the problem is and what sexual assault looks like at Fort Bragg.”
The first phase is the developmental phase, explained Orchowski. During this portion, random and anonymous surveys are conducted with 18- to 24-year old males. Survey teams will position themselves at gyms and the bowling alleys on Fort Bragg to collect data about the attitude surrounding the climate of sexual assault. Soldiers will be monetarily compensated for taking the survey.
Additionally, the study will hold focus groups and individual interviews to “make sure we really understand the problem before putting the prevention approach into place,” Orchowski said.
Phase two will consist of a small, open trial of the prevention program they create based on the data they collect. The team will work with about 20 Soldiers to test the pilot and determine its feasibility, acceptability and utility, Orchowski said.
The last phase will implement the program to a wider audience and test its success against other sexual assault prevention approaches.
“This is a pilot project to bring best practices that have been successful in the civilian world into the military and to test them. The idea is that if it’s successful, then it will be useful to the Army in the future,” Berkowtiz said. “I personally believe as a national expert that in the end the civ sector will be learning from the military to solve this problem.”
Sexual Assault Awareness month events
Tomorrow — SAAPM Motorcycle Ride hosted by Womack Army Medical Center from 1 to 3 p.m. starting and ending at the Womack Troop Battalion.
Wednesday — “Soldier Social Influences” training at York Theater from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn how to overcome negative influences that can lead Soldiers down the wrong path.
April 26 — Denim Day. Wear denim to show support and awareness of SAAPM.
April 26 — “Can I Kiss You?” training at 9:30 a.m. at the FRG Center. The event is open to all 82nd Airborne Division Soldiers and their Family members. This will count toward annual training.
April 27 and 28 — Leader training at York Theater from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This training will satisfy SHARP and ASAP training requirements.