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Wright-Patterson Spotlight: Capt. Karen Degraphenreid

Wright-Patterson Spotlight: Capt. Karen Degraphenreid

Wright-Patterson Spotlight: Capt. Karen Degraphenreid

Name and rank: Capt. Karen Degraphenreid

Duty title: Program manager, Combat Rescue Helicopter Subsystems; volunteer victim advocate at Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

Unit of assignment: Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance & Special Operations Forces Directorate, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center

What do you do at Wright-Patt? I am program manager in the HH-60W system program office. I’m leading the integration of the Distributed Aperture Infrared Countermeasure system into the HH-60W. I also serve as a volunteer victim advocate for the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base SAPR office. Holding a national certification, I offer nonclinical crisis intervention, confidentiality, resources and many other forms of support for victims of sexual assault.

“Being a volunteer victim advocate can become a second full-time job, so her dedication and passion for the program over the last several years has been paramount to the success of the WPAFB SAPR program,” said Annamae Willis, the installation’s sexual assault response coordinator.

Why are you and your job important to the Air Force, AFMC and WPAFB?

My office is developing the HH-60W, which is set to replace the aging fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawk combat-rescue helicopters. This helicopter is being designed to rescue military personnel, particularly downed pilots, in hostile environments. The Distributed Aperture Infrared Countermeasure system, in particular, will enable enhanced threat protection, aircraft survivability and mission success during contested operations by detecting small-arms fire and denying tactical infrared threats the ability to effectively engage the aircraft.

The reason I became a volunteer victim advocate was because I believe the SAPR program and the work I do as a victim advocate protects our collective mission. We ask our Airmen to do extraordinary things — sometimes with little resources. They go above and beyond to execute the Air Force mission. If something as traumatic and sensitive as a sexual assault happens, I believe we owe them this space. We owe them advocacy and resources. If we want our Airmen to continue to perform at this high level, we need to be there for them when situations like this arise.