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New SARC takes reins

Eunice “Bernie” McFarling, 28th Bomb Wing sexual assault response coordinator, settles in as the new SARC at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 15, 2015. As the base’s SARC, McFarling is the central contact for those who have been victims of sexual assault. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anania Tekurio/Released)

Eunice “Bernie” McFarling, 28th Bomb Wing sexual assault response coordinator, settles in as the new SARC at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 15, 2015. As the base’s SARC, McFarling is the central contact for those who have been victims of sexual assault. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anania Tekurio/Released)

Eunice “Bernie” McFarling, 28th Bomb Wing sexual assault response coordinator, and Krista Sheridan, 28th BW full-time sexual assault victim advocate, facilitates sexual assault awareness and prevention month planning meeting at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 15, 2015. According to McFarling, education and awareness are pertinent to helping prevent sexual assault in the military and are also pivotal to nurturing a safe environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anania Tekurio/Released)

Eunice “Bernie” McFarling, 28th Bomb Wing sexual assault response coordinator, and Krista Sheridan, 28th BW full-time sexual assault victim advocate, facilitates sexual assault awareness and prevention month planning meeting at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 15, 2015. According to McFarling, education and awareness are pertinent to helping prevent sexual assault in the military and are also pivotal to nurturing a safe environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anania Tekurio/Released)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Ellsworth AFB has a new advocate for helping victims of sexual assault regain their sense of power, Mrs. Eunice "Bernie" McFarling.

McFarling, who recently arrived at Ellsworth in October of 2015, has taken the reins as the base's Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. Prior to coming to Ellsworth, she worked with the Airman and Family Readiness Center at Kadena Air Base, Japan. 

"I'm very excited to be here and am looking forward, as the SARC, to have the opportunity to be a part of the solution," McFarling said. "I'm determined to promote a culture of dignity and respect."

Being prior active-duty and growing up with a parent in the military, McFarling has experienced the military lifestyle first-hand and understands the importance of fostering a safe environment for all. She started in the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response field 10 years ago and, to this day, finds it a rewarding calling.  

"There have been many positive changes in the military since I was an Airman," McFarling said. "But as the SARC, I am pleased to have the opportunity to directly impact our military culture in regards to sexual assault."

While ensuring a safe environment is important to McFarling, her main role as the SARC is to be the central contact at Ellsworth for those who have been victims of sexual assault. The SARC, along with volunteer victim advocates, assists Airmen, dependents and Department of Defense civilians in connecting with legal, medical, mental health and law enforcement support.

"The SAPR program is so important to strengthening the Air Force's commitment to eliminating sexual assaults and also to guaranteeing victims receive the appropriate responsive care," McFarling said. "One sexual assault is one too many."

McFarling added eliminating sexual assault takes effort from everyone and that one of the biggest assets to helping the cause comes from the victim advocates.

To become a victim advocate, volunteers will go through an application and interview process with the SARC. A background check is administered and anyone chosen to be an advocate will then go through a week-long class designed to equip them with the knowledge and skills to help victims of sexual assault.

In addition, all victim advocates will be certified by the National Organization for Victim Assistance before they can act in that capacity.

"I look forward to my new role and its challenges," McFarling said. "I am proud to be a member of the SAPR office, which includes our full-time Victim Advocate, Krista Sheridan and our Alternate SARC, Dennis Wier."

To contact the SARC or to become a victim advocate, call the SAPR office at (605) 385-5233.

To contact the 24/7 Sexual Assault report line, call (605) 385-SARC (7272).