Guest Speaker Visits Minnesota to Address Army and Air Guardsmen

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Lynette Olivares
  • 133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Russel W. Strand spoke to more than 400, full-time Minnesota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen about the prevalence of sexual assault in the military and throughout the nation - and how to foster a new culture blames the perpetrator, not the victim - during a 2-hour, engaging presentation at the 133rd Airlift Wing's dining facility on Nov. 4, 2015.

"We were extremely fortunate to have Mr. Strand talk to our Soldiers and Airmen on Culture Change and Sexual Assault," said Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Diaz, Minnesota Army Guard Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.  "He is forefront leader and subject matter expert on this topic.  His energetic approach I feel was well received by all and brings a different perspective to the issues we face trying to combat this crime."

Sexual assault and harassment in the military has been a silent problem for many years, said Diaz, but in recent years, leaders in all branches have taken greater strides in combatting it. His no-nonsense approach to the subject made a different impact than the regular military briefers and computer based training many of the guardsmen have gone through before.

"I found the Russell Strand presentation to be extremely impactful," said Maj. Ann Todd, Minnesota Air National Guard Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. "The point that stood out the most for me is the incredible impact we can each individually have on the culture and climate of our unit, especially when it comes to the prevention of sexual assault. We are all leaders and we all need to step up and stand up for our fellow Wingmen.  It takes a village."

Strand used shocking videos, statistic and emotional personal experiences intended to make the audience uncomfortable - an attention-grabbing tactic to relay the message that sexual assault and harassment in the military is a problem and everyone's business. 

"His message of creating a culture change and supporting the victims needs to be implemented at every level. His idea that this needs to be leader-led and peer-driven really puts the responsibility on all of us to do the right thing," said Diaz, a three-years SARC veteran. "There will be no change in this area if we continue to ignore the "small" things on a daily basis. That change starts with us standing up and stopping comments or stopping actions when we see it." 

"Our senior leaders haven given wonderful support to the Minnesota National Guard SAPR program and our victims, now it is time for us, as peers, to step up and continue that change.  Mr. Strand is truly inspirational and my goal is that our Soldiers and Airmen will really think about what they heard, take it to heart and put it into action to make a better and safer environment for those around them."

Strand is the current Chief of the U.S. Army Military Police School Behavioral Sciences Education &Training Division, with specialized expertise, experience and training in the area of domestic violence intervention, critical incident peer support and sexual assault. He has established, developed, produced and conducted U.S. Army Sexual Assault Investigations, Domestic Violence Intervention Training, Sexual Assault Investigations and Child Abuse Prevention. Strand has also assisted in the development and implementation of Department of Defense training standards, programs of instruction and lesson plans for Sexual Assault Response Coordinators, victim advocates, chaplains, criminal investigators, first responders, commanders and health professionals.