CAMP ZAMA (Oct. 15, 2019) -- The U.S. Army Garrison Japan Family Advocacy Program used skits to increase interest during troop trainings about domestic violence here Oct. 10.

"If [Soldiers] can actually see what's going on, see the script and recognize the people that are there, then we're able to make sure that they're interested," said Stan Austin, USAG Japan FAP manager.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the program is hosting a series of trainings to ensure Soldiers and other members of the community are aware of indicators of domestic violence and how to help themselves and the people they know, Austin said.

Austin and Amy Trotto, a victim advocate specialist with FAP, discussed the skits with audience members and elaborated on issues the skits presented.

For example, after a skit that addressed the strong link between animal abuse and domestic violence, Trotto encouraged people to report incidents.

"There are some things that you might not put together right away, but you know that it's not right or there's just something not right about that situation," Trotto said. "Ask the question. Get involved. Make the report."

In addition, Christine Coller, an Army Substance Abuse Program specialist; Darren Powell, a counselor with Military and Family Life Counseling; and Mel Jackson, financial program manager at ACS, also spoke and answered questions.

Substance abuse and financial issues often go together with domestic violence, Austin said, so not only did the skits address those issues, but the subject-matter experts talked about ways they can help.

Powell said although there are other counseling options available in military communities, the MFLC program helps bridge a gap because counselors do not keep records of their services.

As a retired service member, Powell said, "I realize the world we live in, it's not about stress; it's about how much stress . We live in a world of transitions. We're transitioning all the time … With that, I think that sometimes we need to learn to manage our anger--learn to manage our stress--a little bit better."

Although some of the actors in the skits were members of the Camp Zama community theater group, organizers pulled others from the audience. The actors recruited on site increase the likelihood that their colleagues and friends will stay engaged with the training, Austin said.

"They look up on the stage and they see, 'Hey, that's my buddy Joe.'" Austin said. "'I just walked in the door with him. Wow, that's pretty serious.' They're going to watch their buddies."

For example, Sgt. Tierra Jenkins, assigned to the 901st Military Police Detachment, and Sgt. Kristen Bennett, assigned to the 88th MPD, performed in front of members of their units during the training.

In the skit, Jenkins' character stopped by to see a pregnant friend played by Bennett and discovered holes in the walls, an injured dog and that her friend had no access to her car, identification and passport--all due to the actions of her friend's husband.

"I know what to do. You're coming with me," said Jenkins as she grabbed Bennett's hand and they left the stage.

The program hosted two trainings Oct. 10, and at the end of both, Austin and Trotto asked audience members if they preferred the skits or the more traditional method of training with slides. Audience members agreed they preferred to learn via the skits.

Spc. Alexander Jaggears, assigned to the 901st MPD, said he found the training informative, especially because of the way organizers delivered the information.

"The fact that they're doing it hands on and involving some of the other Soldiers and using them to act it out makes it … a lot more attention-grabbing than sitting through PowerPoints," Jaggears said. "They also did a very good job just leading through the conversations and asking the right type of questions."

FAP is hosting troop training from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Camp Zama CRC and will also support a troop training at 10 a.m. Oct. 18 at the Yokosuka Naval Air Station CRC. All Department of Defense identification card holders are welcome.