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Department of the Air Force stands up Task Force to combat interpersonal violence

WASHINGTON (AFNS) --

The Department of the Air Force launched a task force to address concerns regarding interpersonal violence among service members.

Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett appointed Brig. Gen. April Vogel, the director for manpower, personnel, recruiting and services at the National Guard Bureau, to lead the task force, which will support members of the Air Force and Space Force.

“Interpersonal violence describes a wide spectrum of behaviors ranging from stalking and bullying to sexual assault, abuse and domestic violence,” Vogel said. “We know these types of violence exist in our communities and we are working hard to prevent them from happening. But recognizing prevention is not yet foolproof, we must ensure our Airmen and Space Professionals feel protected and have the resources and leadership necessary to keep them safe.”

As Vogel stands up the task force, her initial focus will be developing a research-based plan of action that leverages existing data on violence among and against Airmen and Space Professionals.

In support of the task force’s efforts, the secretary of the Air Force and service chiefs, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, directed the staff to review past cases involving interpersonal violence to identify any themes or areas for improvement.

“We’ll also be asking our service members for their input to help shape our task force’s efforts,” Vogel said. “We know our Airmen and Space Professionals in the squadrons, particularly our young members, are the ones most affected by interpersonal violence. We need to hear their stories.”

In a memo to the force, senior leaders from the Department denounced interpersonal violence and urged affected service members to ask for assistance.

“Most importantly, if you are being threatened, harassed, stalked or bullied, please come forward and report it. As your leaders, we condemn any type of interpersonal violence in our force, and we will not tolerate it," the memo states. “If you feel uncomfortable reaching out to your commander or first sergeant, please reach out to another leader, mentor or person you trust … You have options, and you do not have to do this alone.”

Helping resources include the equal opportunity office, the chaplain, the inspector general, judge advocate office, family advocacy, violence prevention integrator and sexual assault response coordinator.

The task force will ultimately be developing recommendations for senior leadership review focused on improving Department policies, processes and actions in this area.