ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The 97th Training Squadron here gained its first student-lead teal rope, or Sexual Assault and Prevention Response liaison, June 16, 2020.
While assigned to their technical training schools, a group of selected Airmen in Training wear colorful ropes over their shoulders, identifying them as student leaders. Varying from red, yellow, green, black, white, and teal, every AIT wearing a rope holds additional leadership responsibilities and can be seen as a wingman to their peers.
The teal rope holds a different role than other ropes as the teal color represents sexual assault and awareness support. The Airman chosen to wear the teal rope receives special training by the SAPR office and serves as a link between AIT and the base’s SAPR office for needed support.
“Back in 2018 we only had about 60 students here, which was too small to have a teal rope, and a lot of the new students coming in expected a teal rope because most tech schools already had one,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kylee Galang, a Military Training Leader assigned to the 97th TRS. “Since then I have been trying to get a teal rope here. I wanted to be able to give the students that resource and added protection throughout their training.”
U.S. Air Force Airman Basic Legea Howard, a KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator student at the 97th TRS, volunteered and was recommended by her MTL’s as the 97th TRS’s first teal rope in history.
“When I first got here I realized we did not have a teal rope, and I wondered, ‘what if someone was going through something tough and they needed someone to talk to,’” said Howard. “I know I have been in situations where I wanted to talk to somebody but I couldn't express myself to the people around me. I wanted to be that person that people can come to and express how they feel.”
Howard explained the reason she wanted to be a teal rope was to connect with, build friendships and become the person that her fellow classmates can rely on for help. After only being at the 97th TRS for a month, Howard stated that her goal after leaving is to make friends while bettering herself.
Howard explained “throughout my 20 years of life, I have never really been that social of a person, but as teal rope I am hoping this will break a barrier for me and I can continue to better myself along with my peers.”
Although their main purpose is to act as a SAPR liaison, a teal rope is also trained in the areas of mental health and Chaplain Services. Overall, a teal rope is responsible for increasing prevention and SAPR awareness during technical training, while also providing AIT’s with a valuable resource that will be continued throughout their career.
“The responsibilities of the red, yellow and green ropes here are more of a leadership role attached to the MTL’s. With a teal rope, it adds a more human piece to the Airmen leaders” said Galang. “Now that we have a teal rope, I think that more students will speak up where there are issues and more people will feel comfortable in their own skin and be confident. Having another student that people can trust and confide in will benefit the training and the mission here at Altus.”