SAMFE: Being there for Airmen and Families

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Antwain Hanks
  • 35 Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Taking care of Airmen and families is one of the many priorities of the U.S. Air Force.

From first sergeants to Military Family and Life Counselors (MFLC) the military is full of dedicated individuals whose top priority is to ensure the wellbeing of service members and their families.

Some of these individuals who you may not have known of are Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examiners (SAMFEs).

Found at overseas bases or deployed locations, SAMFE is a joint initiative based on a U.S. Army program that was established when officials realized the lack of medical care available to victims of sexual assault who are stationed overseas or in a contingency area.

"The role of a SAMFE is to provide comprehensive care for a victim in a holistic way," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Danielle Sales, 35th Medical Group sexual assault medical manager.

A SAMFE team is made up of individuals who have volunteered to take on this important task in addition to their day-to-day jobs. The team is usually made up of five members who typically hold the jobs of physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, and registered nurses. They work in coordination with other responders to meet the medical and behavioral health care needs of adolescent and adult sexual assault patients, to include documenting and collecting forensic information.

Col. Timothy B. Murphy, 35th Fighter Wing vice commander, recently recognized the Misawa SAMFE team, which includes Sales, Capt. Kathrine Churchwell, Capt. Agatha Graves, Capt. Kerryann Hall, and Capt. Enesha Hicks, for their dedication and work.

"Recognizing our SAMFE team is important because most people have very little idea of the enormous impact they have," said Murphy. "Each of these medical professionals is on the front line, responding to circumstances that can be very traumatic and potentially life-changing to those involved. Their role requires intense training and is a critical asset in building and maintaining trust within our community for the Sexual Assault Prevention Response program. I very proud of the work they do every single day."

To be a SAMFE, individuals are required to meet prerequisites before attending an 80-hour didactic course. This course includes classroom and hands-on specialized training on forensic sciences that align with the standards of the U.S. Department of Justice, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and the International Association of Forensic Nurses.

The team provides 24/7 services such as forensic examination of the victim when notified by certain agencies such as the Office of Special Investigations, and the local Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC). They also can perform an examination of the accused perpetrator when directed by an installation commander and stand in court to testify on exam findings about the victim. All this is done while SAMFE provide patient-centered care and emotional support to the victim.

"Our team dynamically streamlines care for our sexual assault survivors while empowering them and delivering patient-centered care in a uniquely remote location," said Sales. "It requires a collaborative effort and dedication which our Misawa SAMFE team demonstrates every day."

For more information about the different resources available, including the SAMFE team, please contact the SARC or your Victim Advocate.