LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
The Lackland sexual assault response coordinator was recognized as the best in the Air Force for 2009 during a Department of Defense awards ceremony April 9 in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Charlotte Moerbe, the director of Lackland's Sexual Assault Prevention and Outreach program, and the other service winners were selected from the 600 SARCs in DoD. "I am honored to represent the Air Force," said Dr. Moerbe. "I could not have done this without my staff. I am very blessed to have them."
The five winners had closed door meetings with Defense undersecretary senior officials. Dr. Moerbe said it was an opportunity to discuss the SAPO program, current and future issues, and improvements.
The Lackland sexual assault prevention program was initiated in 2004, nine months before a DoD mandate. SAPO has grown from Dr. Moerbe being alone on the hotline for the first 1.5 years to an office of six, including the recent hiring of a fulltime counselor.
When the program began, Dr. Moerbe said then base commander Col. Robert Holmes had recognized the benefits of raising sexual assault awareness and prevention in basic military training and the technical training schools.
"He took a risk as a commander to make it a stand alone office, and from my understanding, it was the Air Force's first separate, stand alone program dealing with sexual assault," Dr. Moerbe said. "There had been some legal offices (dealing with sexual assault) but it was an additional duty through the victim witness assistance program."
From those beginnings, the SAPO volunteer pool has grown to nearly 300 unit representatives, 90 victim advocates and as many as 40 volunteer instructors.
Before developing the Lackland sexual assault program, Dr. Moerbe was a psychologist in BMT.
She had previously worked at a rape crisis center and treated sexual assault survivors in private practice.
"When I worked at BMT, I dealt with a lot of sexual assault cases," she said. "If there was a sexual assault or a history (of sexual assault), they would see me.
"Sexual assault just impacts so much. Without the right support, (sexual assault victims) can be prone to additional sexual assault, additional trauma and additional issues that are going to affect missions."