How the Air Force is making use of VR for sexual assault prevention coaching

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The virtual reality firm Moth + Flame has partnered with the U.S. Air Force to build a VR coaching plan to show persons how to stop sexual assault and how to effectively respond to it if it takes place.

The plan, dubbed sexual assault stop and response coaching (SAPR), focuses on coaching Air Force personnel how to use intervention expertise, advocate for victims, and how to report incidents, stated Carmen Shott, SAPR plan manager at Air Mobility Command (AMC), in an interview with VentureBeat.

The coaching is regarded significant mainly because a report in March stated there had been a total of 1,661 reports of sexual assault in the Air Force in 2020, according to a report by the Department of Defense. Previously, New York-based Moth + Flame produced a VR coaching module associated to suicide prevention, and this week takes place to be National Suicide Prevention Week.

The sexual assault coaching plan could attain 10,000 personnel in the Air Force. And if it goes properly, it could attain a wider audience, Shott stated. One of the issues that the VR plan does is us virtual reality to build an empathy-creating immersive encounter. It simulates genuine conversations.


Image Credit: Air Force/Moth + Flame

Moth + Flame and other VR providers have accomplished a lot of coaching simulations in the previous.

“We’ve done projects and programs for Netflix, Facebook, Google, AT&T, Accenture, including one in child welfare,” stated Kevin Cornish, CEO of Moth + Flame, in an interview with VentureBeat. “The [child welfare one] was the first one that we did in the workplace training space. And it addresses one of the big challenges that caseworkers face in the enterprise, where people come into the job and don’t know how difficult it is” when a social worker does interviews with feasible victims of youngster abuse.

Shott stated she believed the VR work with youngster welfare applications was pretty properly accomplished, and that spurred her interest in establishing ability-based coaching for separate personnel and volunteer victim advocates in the Air Force. The work with Moth + Flame began about two years ago.

“I really wanted to do this training for them,” Shott stated. “That’s where we ran with it, on this adventure, and got funding to do this.”

In the Air Force, VR coaching is typically utilised for pilot coaching or upkeep applications. But this plan dealt with an completely distinctive region.

The Air Force personnel will go by way of a two-hour coaching plan exactly where they can be taught how to manage hard conversations, such as the precise wording to use and mannerisms that can support.

Headsets beat PowerPoint

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Image Credit: Air Force/Moth + Flame

The very first 30-minute session is accomplished now, and it is obtaining an influence in comparison to coaching with PowerPoint presentations.

“We create this to be impactful and moving, but not to be triggering,” Shott stated. “It was a thin line on how to develop this so it wasn’t too much. But it’s very realistic. I couldn’t believe it.”

A sexual assault survivor volunteered to serve as a coach in the VR module for the encounter. She served as the coach for the hard conversation, helped create the script, and hit all of the coaching points that necessary to be addressed.

“Typically, people would hear this in a PowerPoint presentation or small group discussion, and a lot of people aren’t comfortable talking about this topic in front of their peers, or with high-ranking members,” Shott stated. “So we really want to develop something that would allow them to learn about unrestricted reporting, restricted reporting, who has a mandated report, collateral misconduct, special victims counsel, which are lawyers that can help them, and we lead them through this scenario. And we’re also introducing key concepts for them to learn, and things we want to test their knowledge on skills and abilities, and how to help an airman in need.”

There are issues like nonverbal cues that the actors can give that the participants really should notice.

“We want airmen to know that there’s no right or wrong. This is a learning experience,” Shott stated.

In the Air Force VR module, the persons going by way of the coaching get to engage in a hard conversation though wearing the VR headset. On a peer-to-peer level, an “airman” (as the Air Force calls its personnel) seeks support more than a sexual assault and is seeking for sources. About 97% of the persons who go by way of the VR coaching choose it more than the typical verbal coaching that has been accomplished given that 2005.

“I really think it could grow and become a bigger project across the Air Force,” Shott stated.

The next stage

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Image Credit: Moth + Flame

The complete plan will have two 30-minute part-playing sessions exactly where a group assists a victim of sexual assault connect with these accountable for assisting. It also shows how to intervene as a bystander. There’s a further situation for volunteer victim advocates who provide quick assistance for victims, as properly as a part-playing situation for leaders of squadrons to deal with proof of a sexual assault.

“We’re in the process of developing this with Kevin and his team now,” Shott stated.

Schott believes that the VR strategy is inventive, and it assists immerse persons in scenarios exactly where they will spend interest and understand superior about the topic matter. SAPR coaching will be utilised at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas.

“The biggest thing is actually having to say the words out loud. And that by saying the words out loud, you’re engaging physically,” Cornish stated. “So much of leadership is having difficult conversations. And it’s something that’s really exciting as we’re watching in virtual reality grow, especially now, in the hybrid workplace, how COVID has completely disrupted traditional training, and a scalable technology, like virtual reality, gets you that focus that you get with in-person training. It’s not like computer-based training, where you’re just clicking ‘next’ over and over. That’s where we are seeing people in corporations and the Department of Defense training people at scale.”

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Image Credit: Air Force/Moth + Flame

Moth + Flame produced the coaching apps with the Air Mobility Command’s Integrated Resiliency Team which supports Air Force pilots and other personnel, and their households, on how to deal with  supporting crisis prevention, intervention, and postvention.

The firm got the contract for the coaching from AFVentures’ AFWERX Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) plan, and it was pushed forward by 4-star basic Jacqueline Van Ovost, promoted to lead the transportation command.

Earlier, Moth + Flame produced a 30-minute VR pilot coaching plan at Sacramento’s Travis Air Force Base to deal with suicide prevention.

“One of the most exciting things about being part of this project is seeing how the Air Force is a leader in innovation,” Cornis stated. “We expect innovation around the airplanes, but seeing innovation around the people and using next next gen technology to help make the people better — it’s been really inspiring in this project.”

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz