Dr. Mamie Futrell, Joint Base Charleston-Air Base’s sexual assault program manager, received the 2019 Air Force Exceptional Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Award. This is the second year in a row a JB Charleston SARC has received this award. Last year, Ruby McChesney, the sexual assault response coordinator for the Navy, won the award.
Each year the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office recognizes an exceptional SARC and SAPR victim advocate from each military service.
SARCs provide service members with the resources necessary to ensure they stay mission-ready and resilient. When any service member reports a sexual assault, the SARC addresses the victim’s immediate safety needs and connects them to resources. When requested, they also assign a victim advocate to provide support throughout the medical, investigative and legal processes. SARCs work closely with other installation responders, educate the community and help military leaders improve their support of service members impacted by sexual assault.
Dr. Futrell sat down for an interview to discuss her role as a SARC and her achievement:
Q1: Can you tell me about what you do here and how it enabled you to receive this award?
A: You provided a great overview of the role of a SARC. However, behind the scenes, there is a lot that goes into supporting victims who come forward. Being selfless and willing to go that extra mile to not only respond but try and prevent this crime is what helped me achieve this award. I often step outside of my required duties to work with other stakeholders to develop innovative and effective ways to improve the culture and remove barriers to reporting. Most importantly, this award is not possible without my advocates and the support I receive from leadership at JB Charleston.
Q2: What is it like being the main SARC for the base? What kind of responsibilities go into it?
A: As a SARC we are on call 24/7, 365, and it is our duty to ensure there is a response capability at all times. As the installation SARC, we not only provide crisis response to active duty Air Force members, but also our reservists and many tenant units that are affiliated with the installation. It requires working evenings and weekends at times and giving up personal and family time if a crisis hits. When you calculate the population, it is a huge responsibility and I am happy to have the role to do so.
Q3: How did you feel when you were notified that you received this award at the Air Force level?
A: The Air Force has some amazing SARCs out there. Within Air Mobility Command, we have a lot of seasoned and experienced SARCs who have mentored me. Winning at the AMC level was very shocking and rewarding and then finding out I won at the Air Force level truly reminded me why I continue this work. There are those days where I think to myself that maybe I need a job that I don’t have to carry the work cell everywhere, but being recognized for my hard work makes me want to continue to do that and more.
Q4: How does what you do as a SARC enable Airmen to stay mission-ready and resilient?
A: There are many barriers that Airmen may encounter that hinder their ability to be mission-ready and resilient. Sexual assault is one of the most personal and traumatic barriers they can face. Without getting into the statistics and impact of the trauma, the SARCs role is crucial to a victim’s healing. We often are that first person that a victim seeks help from and if we fail to make that connection and provide that personalized support, that can negatively impact their healing process. As a SARC it is my job to be attentive to victims and empower them to make the best decision that will help them heal in their own way and provide. Many victims are away from family and although I cannot replace those family members, I can try my best to show them genuine care and support to make the process of healing a bit easier.
Q5: What do you hope for in the future to continue to strive for excellence?
A: Anyone who knows me will likely tell you I am a machine. I am constantly busy and involving myself in something greater and always looking for that next step. Doing frontline work is challenging and I hope to become a mentor to others like the ones I had throughout my career. I hope to inspire others to step outside their comfort zone and take risks to make an impact for those who need that support. Most of all, I hope that I can continue to be influential in every role that I may partake in as I continue my career.