Chapel offers VR, enhances training

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rachel Perkinson
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

 The 23rd Wing religious affairs team implemented virtual reality crisis training in February 2022 at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.

This initiative aims to enhance the reality of crisis situations and reinvigorate the way Moody trains for sexual assault and suicide prevention. The training is broken into various modules, each containing topics consistent with the computer-based and face-to-face training.

“This is a great way to practice for real-world scenarios,” said Tech. Sgt. Gian Carlo Cintron, 23rd Wing religious affairs noncommissioned officer in charge of resource management. “It offers a unique perspective and has you say phrases out loud and reminds you to use the Ask, Care, Escort method.”

VR offers a realistic way to practice the ACE method by presenting users the opportunity to ask what’s wrong, care for the individual’s wellbeing and escort them to get further help, which is crucial to ensuring a person’s safety.

“I think it’s a great tool,” Cintron said. “It’s hard to find the proper approach for topics that are sensitive in nature. The VR allows an individual to fully immerse in the scene of the chosen module topic.”

In one of the modules the user is “face-to-face” with an actor or actress who is going through a crisis and it’s the user’s job to help calm them and get the support they need by choosing from the automated responses provided.

Due to the training’s realistic nature, some users may experience triggering elements such as the presence of beer bottles, broken glass and pills in the virtual environment.

“Using the virtual reality training was a bit intense,” said Tierra Jackson, 23rd Wing Airman Family Readiness Center community readiness specialist. “You don’t want to make the wrong call and yet, there seemed to be a couple of ‘right’ responses at times. However, it was gratifying to see the positive impact when implementing the knowledge we gain through our face-to-face training.”

While VR cannot replace required face-to-face training or computer-based training, service members and key spouses can use the technology in conjunction with the CBTs to improve their ability in navigating crisis situations.

“I think if we combined the face-to-face training, the VR modules and held small group discussions afterward, it would help people open up more and create trust with those around them,” Cintron said. “I’m hoping one day every unit or squadron on base can have their own VR set-up for their Airmen to use at any point and time they want.”

While the future is unknown with virtual reality in the military, those who experience the training themselves may benefit in a way that differs from written or spoken forms of crisis training.

“The main benefit I hope they take away from the VR training is how impactful the right words and actions are in the moment,” Jackson said. “There are no do-overs in real life emergencies. Learning how to navigate a situation in advance will be the major benefit of the virtual reality training.”

The virtual reality isn’t recommended for those that have experienced sexual assault or suicide. For more information and a chance to participate in the VR modules, contact the Moody Chapel at 229-257-3211.