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Copperheads to promote safety, non-violence as ‘Green Dots’

Green Dot training rolls out across Air Force. (U.S. Air Force graphic by David Perry)

Green Dot training rolls out across Air Force. (U.S. Air Force graphic by David Perry)

PHOENIX -- Airmen at the 161st Air Refueling Wing here will soon become "Green Dots" - people trained to identify potential interpersonal violence and intervene in a variety of ways.

In May, 12 members of the wing participated in Green Dot instructor training, a course designed to spread an anti-violence message across the Air Force. The five-year initiative focuses on engaging leadership among Airmen to expand the definition of bystander intervention in the face of violence.

The Air Force contracted with the non-profit organization to provide violence prevention tools to the total Air Force through 2018.

According to the Green Dot Etc. website, a Green Dot symbolizes a person, action, decision or attitude that communicates an intolerance for violence. A Red Dot, by contrast, symbolizes abuse, assault, stalking, bullying and even bystander inaction.

Understanding that Red Dots cannot be eradicated by one swift action or policy, the program suggests that only Green Dots dispersed throughout an organization can make a difference.

Wing instructors will teach classes during Unit Training Assemblies from June through December this year. The sessions will be 90 minutes with estimated class sizes of 30 to 40 Airmen.

"The Green Dot initiative is a nonprofit organization that is contracted to develop the implementation of violence reduction," said Brian Benbow, Airman and Family Readiness program manager and Green Dot coordinator. He said the initiative is intended to curb violence, to include hazing or bullying, across the Air Force.

"The Green Dot program has been implemented by corporate America and has proven to be successful in diminishing the amount of violent incidents within the work place," said Benbow.

The Air Force does not intend for the Green Dot program to replace Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs.

Master Sgt. Jesse Bautista, wing inspector general superintendent, is a newly-certified Green Dot instructor.  He said Green Dot focuses on empowerment and encourages bystanders to intervene in situations that would likely result in violence. "Green Dot is an approach used to combat violence whereas SAPR is more victim based," he said.

On June 1, Green Dot instructors will teach their first class to wing leadership. Each drill will offer sessions expected to help the wing reach 100 percent of its members by December.

Overall, Benbow underlined that Green Dot is about initiating a cultural change mainly geared toward encouraging bystanders to "do something based on the individual Guard member's barriers."

All wing members are soon to be asked the question, "Are you ready to be a Green Dot?"