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ODU Women’s Center and Military Connections Center Partner to Host Training Targeting Sexual Assault

Old Dominion University will host "Strengthening Military-Civilian Community Partnerships to Respond to Sexual Assault," an upcoming training event for military personnel that is aimed at responding to sexual assault promptly and diligently.

More than two dozen civilian and military personnel from Hampton Roads Naval installations and NATO headquarters will attend the Nov. 21 event from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. in the Hampton-Newport News Rooms of Webb University Center.

This training will be interactive and will help participants establish partnerships with local military installations in order to effectively respond to the needs of sexual assault victims in the military. Throughout the training, participants will build knowledge about military systems, protocols, and culture to improve service provision to military sexual assault victims and to develop an appreciation of the perspectives of their future collaborative partners. With the knowledge gained through this training process, in combination with their existing expertise in responding to sexual assault, participants will be able to serve as knowledgeable resources to military installations throughout the United States.

Old Dominion University emerged as a host for the event through a partnership between its Women's Center and Military Connections Center.

"Over the course of the last year, the connections we have with our on and off-campus military partners has grown significantly," said Joann Bautti, assistant director of the Women's Center and project director for ODU's U.S. Department of Justice Campus Grant. The three-year, $300,000 grant, awarded in Fall 2012, was awarded to the Old Dominion University Women's Center to aid in the creation of sexual assault response readiness on U.S. college campuses.

"When we wrote the grant, we were mindful of our responsibility to our military population and strategic in outlining how we could increase outreach and services to this population," Bautti said. "The Strengthening Military-Civilian Partnerships workshop is one way to improve our success in this area."

The training will bring military and ODU personnel together to share expertise in a proactive, collaborative initiative to tackle an issue that affects organizations and college and university campuses nationwide, Bautti said.

The training will be conducted by three experts on the subject:

  • Kristina Vadas, the sexual assault program coordinator with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice since 2012. Vadas manages statewide sexual assault victim services programs, including the Sexual Assault Grant Program and the Sexual Assault Services Program
  • Kim Birdwell, a sexual assault response coordinator with the U.S. Navy's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program. Birdwell serves as one of six points of contact for integrating and coordinating sexual assault victim care, from an initial report of an incident through resolution of the case.
  • Commander Colleen Shook, Victims' Legal Counsel - Naval Station Norfolk, is in charge of Victims' Legal Program Mid-Atlantic for the U.S. Navy. A JAG Corps officer, CMDR Shook has held several assignments within the Naval legal service. She is admitted to the bars of Virginia, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and the United States Supreme Court

For more information on ODU initiatives and programs designed to combat sexual assault, visit the Women's Center website.

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