Two years after the first allegations of sexual misconduct between trainers and trainees surfaced, tangible changes implemented to better protect both parties are easily visible at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
The changes come after numerous scathing hearings on Capitol Hill and a review of the entire Air Force.
One of the tangible changes includes phones that are now located in common areas of the new dormitories that trainees can use to report a sexual assault and speak with a live counselor.
However, that same phone is used to check local news and weather which helps remove the stigma of using the phone.
Colonel Deborah Liddick took over command of the 737th Training Group in August 2012 as the fallout from the sex scandal intensified.
It has been her mission to oversee a long list of command-directed changes, one of which has been to increase the number of Military Training Instructors, or MTIs, that oversee groups of basic trainees. Those groups are called “flights.”
“I’m a maintainer and everything I do is by the book,” said Liddick. “When I first took command, I had 11 officers in the group. Now I have 51."
There are now more than 60 surveillance cameras throughout the new dorms. Instead of the recordings being reviewed only when an incident comes into question, portions are now reviewed daily and monitored 24/7.
The surveillance system is also being upgraded to save recordings for years rather than days.
All beds have been removed from the offices of MTIs. Liddick said the purpose of the beds was to provide a place for MTIs to relax during what could sometimes be a 17 hour work day during the 8-and-a-half weeks of basic training. But now with more manpower, those hours have been decreased.
Liddick said the new goal is for MTIs to work a maximum of 10 hours a day. “Eventually we're going to cut a big picture window into the office so when you walk down the hallway anybody - any leadership or anyone who's working - can look into an MTI office so it is very transparent,” Liddick said.
Comment boxes have been moved into stairwells where an MTI would be less likely to see a trainee submit one. Previously, those boxes were placed in dining halls - a much higher traffic area.
Each comment sheet Liddick said she reads personally. “At no time will a trainee be left alone with an MTI. They will always have a wingman with them,” added Liddick. “And that protects both the trainee and the MTI.”
The majority of these tangible changes were the result of the Air Force review that encompassed 215 interviews, 18,000 surveys, and numerous focus groups.
That review culminated in 45 recommendations to be adopted by the Air Force.
Two investigations into instructor misconduct are currently ongoing. One case involves alleged sexual assault while the other involves an alleged unprofessional relationship.
Since allegations surfaced in 2011, 27 military training instructors have been court martialed and convicted of wrongdoing. Two of those convictions were for rape.
A total of 34 MTIs have been accused of wrongdoing. Sixty-eight victims, both proven and alleged, have been identified.
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