by Air Force Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera
JBER Public Affairs
6/10/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- During
a feedback session, he was told to start looking for volunteer
opportunities. Soon after, he received an email about a program asking
for volunteers; he applied without knowing what he was getting into.
Suddenly, the 20-year-old Airman found himself a Sexual Assault
Prevention and Response victim advocate.
For the past seven years, Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Greene, a 673d
Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, has been a victim advocate.
Although he hadn't put thought into it, he has never looked back.
"I was 21 when I received my first phone call asking for help," Greene
said. "When I answered the phone, the first thing I thought was 'Holy
crap! What did I just sign myself into?'"
Greene said during that first call, he was just going through the checklist sounding like a robot.
"I sounded like an ass," he said. "I was not there for them. All I wanted to do was try to get the job done."
His patient told him not to treat him like a technical order. Realizing
his mistake, he learned to treat everyone with compassion.
That call changed everything for him.
"Growing up, I was a sheltered little boy living in a bubble," Greene added. "I had no idea what I was doing."
After talking to his mother about the program, the Escondido,
California, native found out his mother had been in an abusive
relationship. It opened up his eyes to see the darker side of the
"I didn't know how close to home [it would hit] until talking to [that]
victim," Greene said. "When you hear their story, telling you what
happened to them, [it] gets to you. I also have two younger children and
it can potentially happen to my family; it scares the crap out of me."
Before he became a family man, he was only worried about himself. In the
seven years he has been a VA, he found at anyone can potentially be a
"All the people that I've seen go through this -- there is no color, you
can be tall, fat, short, male, or female -- there is no demographic,"
the father of four said.
As a victim advocate, Greene possesses essential information and
resources. His primary role is to serve the needs of sexual assault
victims and or survivors for as long as needed.
"Every time that phone rings, I am terrified [about what I am going to
say]," Green said. "You try to prepare yourself mentally and
emotionally, up to the point you hear the person talking on the other
line. You are never prepared for the next call. In no way shape or form
are they ever the same; it's always been different situations for me."
Greene, along with more than 30 other victim advocates at JBER, is the
first line of support for victims of sexual assault. They provide
emotional support and information about what to expect, and connect
victims to other services while maintaining the victim's
"You are just trying to make sure they are safe, make sure they are
where they need to be, and if they need someone to talk to, you are
there," Greene said. "We help them get back to their feet."
In his time, Greene said he has seen some of the victims become stronger and watches them slowly build themselves up.
Sometimes, they contact the victim advocate later and provide an update
that things are better. "That's really the whole responsibility of the
job -- helping them seize control of the past," Greene added.
"You never want to see a silver lining, but I can help and see them get
better -- continue to live and not let that person take away what was
taken from them. -- Even if [the perpetrator] took a fragment of who
they are, they still have everything to look forward to."
Based on what he has seen, he said sexual assault is the worst crime
because sometimes there aren't any wounds -- it's only words, feelings,
emotions. There is often no evidence of bullet or stab wounds, or photos
of the damage done.
"I can never put myself in their shoes because it has never happened to
me," Greene said. "I can never say I know how they felt. The best thing
I can do is let them know that no matter what happened, I will be there
until they do not need me anymore."
After one of his annual SAPR training briefs at the base theater, one Airman thanked him.
"That's all I ever need, to know that one person's life is better," he
said. "If we can help one person's life then we can make a difference at
that point. If this base has 41,000 people and if everyone helped one
person, then we would have helped 41,000 ... I hope that message gets
out there and take away something from it. That's what I hope will
happen. I hope that somebody hears or sees what I am doing."
Darmaly Williams, 673d Air Base Wing SAPR program manager, said Greene
is a tremendous asset to the SAPR program and has given thousands of man
hours to help people understand why the SAPR program exists.
"His passion is tangible," Williams said. "Our office has received many
compliments over the years stating the impact Greene made during a
class, or [while] addressing an individual's specific questions about
the program and its nature."
In fiscal year 2014, there were a total of 6,131 reports of sexual
assault in the Department of Defense. The term covers a wide range of
misconduct from rape to inappropriate touching of another person with
intent to abuse, humiliate or degrade the victim.
Greene added, "I will continue to be a victim advocate because I want
[sexual assault] to stop. Will it stop? Probably not. You cannot stop
evil and you cannot stop stupid. You many never stop the problem, but we
can get darn close and fix a lot of things that are wrong."