by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
4/23/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- More
than 50 Airmen attended Drinks and Dialogue, an open forum aimed at
encouraging honest communication and respect amongst Wolf Pack members
here April 18.
Created and hosted by Staff Sgt. Brandi Howard, 8th Medical Operations
Squadron ambulance services technician, the quarterly event provides
Airmen an opportunity to give feedback in a retribution-free
environment, covering a wide range of topics including sexual assault,
domestic abuse, relationships and culture.
"I wanted to break down the barriers of conversation by having a guided
discussion to help foster a more respectful environment," Howard said.
"Having events like this benefits us at Kunsan because we're in such a
small environment here, and yet we still don't really talk. We may
converse with our friends and our coworkers, but sometimes it's hard to
be honest with the people we're closest with."
Tech. Sgt. Daniel Johnson, 8th Medical Support Squadron Tricare
operations and patient administration flight chief and Drinks and
Dialogue co-host, said many Airmen at Kunsan can benefit from attending
events that value and encourage sincere feedback and interaction amongst
"There will always be differences, but it's important to address
different issues and listen to one another without judgment because we
can utilize these skills in and outside of work," Johnson said. "This
specially applies to Airmen of the Wolf Pack as we are all in a foreign
country with a different culture than what we're used to."
In observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, the
candid forum was also an opportunity for the Kunsan Sexual Assault
Theater Group to promote awareness and prevention through acted-out
skits demonstrating realistic scenarios, including domestic abuse
involving a married couple, sexual assault involving alcohol and
work-place sexual assault.
"This voluntary event asks people to talk about things most people
aren't comfortable talking about in a formal setting," said Capt.
Claudia Santos, 8th Fighter Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.
"Here, Airmen have the chance to discuss topics that are in the back of
their minds, but are rarely addressed directly, as well as see and react
to existing issues involving sexual assault and domestic abuse as acted
out by the Kunsan Sexual Assault Theater Group."
Aimed at not only demonstrating how assaults can occur, but also
eliciting emotions from the crowd, the performances tied into additional
discussions on personal relationships at home and in the work place.
"Being open with each other and having conversations like this is
crucial in creating a climate of dignity and respect, whether it be here
at Kunsan or within society at large," said 1st Lt. Earon Brown, 8th
Fighter Wing deputy chief of public affairs and alternate SARC. "We're
all different people with different backgrounds, and bringing everything
to the table is another way we can address beliefs and perceptions that
can lead to misunderstandings, abuse or sexual assault. At the end of
the day, talking honestly with one another can go a long way."