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Elizabeth Foster, Executive Director, Office of Force Resiliency and Sexual Assault Prevention Response Office, and Dr. Andra Tharp, Senior Prevention Advisor for the Department's Office of Force Resiliency and SAPRO, Off-Camera, On-the-Record Media Roundtable

STAFF:  Hi, everyone.  We're going to get started.  I am going to pass this briefing over to Ms. Elizabeth Foster and Dr. Andrea Tharp.  If ma'ams, if you want to start.

ELIZABETH FOSTER:  Great.  Thanks so much, Jade, and — and good afternoon, everyone.  I've got a few opening comments that I'm going to start with, and then we'll dive into the slide deck and into the briefing.  

Today, the Department of Defense is releasing the 2023 On-site Installation Evaluation Report for the Military Service Academies.  The Secretary of Defense announced today that this moment must serve as a turning point for the military service academies in their fight against sexual assault and harassment, and he has instructed the military departments to swiftly implement all immediate, intermediate, and long-term recommendations outlined in the report.

(ZOOM):  Recording in progress.

MS. FOSTER:  Sorry about that.  

As a reminder, the Secretary directed the department undertake these visits after a March 2023 report revealed a disturbing increase in the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment at the military service academies.  To get at the root of what was driving this increase in sexual assault, the department followed a very specific on-site installation evaluation methodology which differentiates this look from prior visits at the academies.  We not only looked at sexual assault, but also overall climate challenges, prevention capabilities and upstream risk factors that may be driving a range of harmful behaviors, to include not only sexual assault and harassment, but also suicide, retaliation, domestic violence, and child abuse.

As we'll discuss in more detail today, this comprehensive look revealed that the training environment and overall climate at the academies are undermining their ability to prevent harmful behaviors.  In many cases, there are great programs in place, but our analysis reveals that unless some of these more structural and foundational issues are addressed within the training environment, these problems are going to persist.  

The Secretary's announcement today is another example of Secretary Austin's following through on his commitment to leave no stone unturned in the department's fight against sexual assault, just as he did with the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military.  

As stated in the Secretary's memo released today, the SecDef is a proud academy grad.  This is personal for him. And this, is why the Secretary has charged the highest leaders of the department with leading on this issue.  The Secretary will remain personally engaged on implementation, and the department is building a robust infrastructure to ensure expedient and thoughtful implementation.

Military service academies are critical and storied institutions, and these cadets and midshipmen are some of this country's very best and brightest.  These are also our future military leaders, and we need to ensure that they have the tools necessary to build healthy climates and culture.  The readiness and resiliency of our future force depends on this.

So, what we're going to do today is walk you all through the summary of the findings of our visits.  We'll talk a bit about some of the recommendations that the Secretary has directed in this space, and then we'll talk through next steps and what the next phases of implementation look like.  And what I want to emphasize as we dive into the findings of our report is that we're going to talk about this, you know, pretty broadly.  While we observed common themes across all three military service academies, the severity or to — degree to which some of those themes were observed varied pretty considerably across each institution.  You know, these are very unique environments and ecosystems, and so some of that nuance we're going to draw through in our presentation today, and you'll also find it in — in our recommendations.  But a lot of those details are also available in our report.

So, with that, I'm going to turn it over to Dr. Andra Tharp, who is going to — oh, actually, I apologize.  Just quickly, if folks look at slide three in our — our presentation, what you'll see here — this is not new data; this is data that was included in the report that we released in March 2023 that I referenced in my statement.  We included it here as a reference point for folks if they want to be reminded of some of the — the data and some of the concerns that we had leading into these visits.

So, with that, now I will turn over to — to Dr. Tharp to talk through the findings of the visit.

DR. ANDRA THARP:  Great, thank you, and good afternoon.  So, to start, we'll talk through the strengths of — that we observed at the service academies.  These are high-performing institutions with many exceptional students, so of course, we found some strengths, and even though that's not the primary focus of what we'll be talking through today, it is important to note.

So, the strengths draw out a couple of key things that are pertinent to our findings.  The first, as was mentioned before, is that there's tremendous variation and nuance across the different academy environments.  

The second is that there are a lot of activities and programs underway that support cadets and midshipmen.  So, for example, at the U.S. Military Academy they have embedded military and family life counselors.  They also train cadets to be resources for multiple prevention and response programs to help point their cadet peers in the right direction.  At the Naval Academy, there are working groups that bring together different programs to help ensure a unity of effort, and at the Air Force Academy, there are peer groups and affinity groups that are highly regarded and numerous research-based prevention programs that are underway.

So, these are all good things, and these are the areas that the department has highlighted as advancements over the past several years.  However, what we have found across the on-site installation evaluations that we have conducted over the past couple of years, the 40-plus site visits, to include the military service academies, is that there is an interplay between prevention activities and climate.

So, you can be doing a lot of good activities, but if they are implemented in unhealthy or toxic climates, it will degrade the effectiveness of those efforts.  The reason for that is that when cadets and midshipmen learn one thing about leadership or prevention in the classroom but don't see that reinforced in other settings, it sends mixed messages about healthy norms and expectations for how they are to treat each other.

So, our findings and recommendations don't only focus on training or activities but also on the climate underlying these efforts, which requires structural and foundational changes.  Without looking at those underlying structures that may be maintaining unhealthy climates, we might ask, if they're doing all of these good things, why are the rates increasing?

So, moving to the next slide, our findings unpack that a bit.  So as was mentioned, we applied a rigorous methodology, and we assessed three primary metrics in the areas of protective environments, integrated prevention, and stakeholder engagement.  

And when we took all of the data that we collected on-site with all of the other department data that helps us understand the academies, we identified a chain of events or circumstances that gives us opportunities for positive change.

So, I'm going to walk through this graphic that depicts our assessment of what is happening at the service academies.  Our data — starting with the incoming students, our data tell us that more cadets and midshipmen than in previous years are coming into the service academies and have experienced sexual violence or sexual harassment prior to their military service.  So, more students are coming in with these experiences prior to their military service.

And this is consistent with other data that we see across the United States, where we see increases in things like adverse childhood experiences and other difficult experiences during childhood and adolescence.

So, we don't know why there is this increase.  There's some evidence that there was an increase in violence in — in the homes during COVID, but — but regardless of what's causing it, there is a changing demographic of today's youth, and institutions must be attuned to — ensure that they thrive.

However, what we saw is that these young — as these young people came in to these settings, which are stressful, four year environments, the structures are not necessarily set up to help them thrive.  And we certainly understand why military training environments need to be stressful, to build resilience and other important factors, and many people even find a — institutions of higher education to be stressful environments, and here you have both — both the military training environment and an institution of higher education.

So what we found was that the skills that those leaders closest to the cadets and midshipmen, these peer leaders who may be one or two years older, who have a leadership role over cadets and midshipmen, as well as the professional officers, such as TAC officers or AOCs, are not sufficiently equipped, and in some cases, the peer leadership structure was actually creating unhealthy power dynamics that lead to hazing, that further exacerbated this risk.

And as was mentioned, this played out differently across the different service academies, and I'll provide some examples.  So, for example, elements of the fourth class system at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where cadets are not acknowledged as cadets and subjected to practices and mistreatment — so these may be intended to create a bond within the class but that's certainly not everyone's experience.  And instead, they carry these negative experiences and unhealthy norms about how you treat others through their time at the service academy and into the force.

On the other hand, what we saw at the Naval Academy was peer leaders who just didn't know what to do.  They said "I — I didn't know what to do when I became a peer leader, so I just treated the midshipmen that I led the way that I was treated."  And in some cases, that was probably a good thing, and in other cases, they might not have been the most healthy way to treat people.

And then at the U.S. Military Academy, what we saw is cadets who had been out into the operational force and had been exposed to other leaders, more seasoned leaders, and other training environments, and they said "that's what I want.  I want this more seasoned mentor rather than somebody who's, you know, a year older than me and expected to be my mentor.  I want this training that others in the Army are getting."

So, an example of a TAC officer or AOC, this — this — professional officers, what we found is that these leaders are seen primarily as disciplinarians, which is certainly an appropriate role, but they didn't know when or how to prioritize cadet and midshipman's wellbeing over that discipline.

So in one instance, a cadet or a midshipman had experienced a family tragedy and they had sought mental healthcare off the installation because the — there was some stigma about seeking help on the installation of — at the academy, but they weren't actually allowed to get the help because they weren't allowed to leave the base because their unit had — had a minor violation the week before.

So, the influence of that event wasn't just about that cadet or midshipman not getting the help they needed at that moment, but it sent the message to them and their peers that this is how you lead, this is how you care for people, and they took that out into the force.
So, while these structures — these peer leadership structures may have been effective in the past, our findings suggest they may need some adjustment now because the culmination of all of this was a climate of cynicism, distrust, and stigma.

The cynicism and distrust really came from mixed messages that what was communicated and taught was a little bit different from what was modeled and reinforced.  In terms of accountability, there was a sense that it was not consistently or transparently handled, in terms of violations were handled.  There was stigma around help seeking and fears around the impact that help seeking would have on commissioning or career choice.  And all of this was driven by unchecked and misinformed influencers, which could be peers, social media, or other voices in the cadet and midshipman's ears.

So, it was interesting because when we briefed the — the academy leadership on our findings, they really underscored that much of what the cadets and midshipmen had told us were simply misperceptions.  They thought that they needed an escort to get help when they didn't.  They thought that there were only certain factors that went into their class ranking when there weren't.  

And we asked ourselves how could this be, that they had such bad information?  And it really took us back to the — the issue before, that those closest to them were unequipped with the right information and they had all of these other inputs in — kind of feeding the narrative that either had misinformation or not current information.

And a critical piece of this is that the misperceptions were driving behaviors.  So, whether or not their beliefs about how you treat each other or what's acceptable, how and when you get help was right or wrong, it was driving the behavior of the cadets and the midshipmen, and it must be corrected.

So, all of this together, means that these leaders, these leaders of character are going out into the force, and many of them are then still dealing with the negative experiences that they had while at the academies.  Others are leaving, thinking that that's how military training works, when in other settings, what happens at the academies would be totally unacceptable in other military training environments.  And many are simply graduating without tools to foster healthy climates in the units that they will lead, which has a direct impact on mission readiness.  

So, our recommendations, going to the next slide, are really tied to our findings.  So as was mentioned, we used the very data-driven process, so the recommendations are broken into the three areas that we assessed with our metrics.  And I'll note that the recommendations are written in an intentionally-high-level manner to allow the service academies to shape them to fit their unique circumstances, our findings, which was mentioned, was — was varied across the service academies, and to help meet their unique needs.  

So, I'll walk very briefly through the recommendations and hit them at a high level, and then we'll talk through next steps, but we're also happy to expand on any of these.

So, in terms of the first area and the areas of prolonged stress, which we assessed through metrics that assess protective environments, there are two main themes with these recommendations.  The first is developing communication tools to address the climate issues.  So, for example, improving the access and options to help-seeking and where possible, increasing the transparency of the actions that are taken to prevent harm and hold individuals appropriately accountable, and also identifying those mixed messages that are driving that sense that, you know, what is taught is not reinforced, and actively addressing that.

Now, the — the mixed messages were a little bit different at the different academies, which is why it's important that they identify where the origins of those are and — and how best to present the counternarrative to the cadets and midshipmen.

In terms of the other bucket of recommendations in this area, our — our most significant recommendations really get at strengthening the peer leadership structure, and these are these structural changes that we're recommending.  And again, they vary across the different service academies based on the severity of issues that we identified.  

In terms of the Air Force Academy, we're recommending that they adjust the fourth-class system to stop the cadet hazing.  In terms of the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy, we're recommending that they add seasoned officers and NCOs to support the other officers and NCOs that are there to provide more mentorship opportunities and supervision so that those peer leaders simply have more resources to grow into those leadership roles with more support.

And then finally, at the Military Academy, we're recommending that they simply review how they are preparing peer leaders, enhance it as is needed to meet the needs of these incoming cadets, but also look for additional opportunities to prepare these peer leaders with those kind-of experiences that they're asking for.

In terms of the second area that we assessed, the climates of cynicism, distrust and stigma, these recommendations really focus on communications and climate and dispelling the — that misinformation, particularly as it applies to the cyber domains.  So more so at the service academies than at civilian universities, we noticed that social media plays a big role in their — it could be leveraged, you know, to encourage...


STAFF: We can't hear you, ma'am…  

STAFF: Please hold on one second.

DR. THARP:  Jade — Jade, can you hear us now?  

STAFF:  We can hear you.

DR. THARP:  Great.  OK, thank you all so much.  Sorry about that.

So, the — one of the key recommendations in this area really focuses on social media and ensuring that social media is not a source of misinformation and bullying.  There — there are certain applications and approaches that just kind of are used more at the service academies than we see at civilian universities, so it's a key opportunity to stop that misinformation.

And then finally, the — the area that assessed prevention through the service academy lifecycle, we noted that prevention programs and activities that are offered are typically offered outside of the school sometimes, Friday night or Saturday mornings, and what we learned from the cadets and midshipmen is that what matters is what's graded and what's required.  So, one recommendation is to incorporate these — these classes that will build their required leadership competencies that we have in policy, these — incorporate them into the cadet and midshipmen curriculum.  But to do that, they also have to integrate across their prevention programs, their character development and their leadership development.  So, all of the academies have these capabilities, but too often, they're operating in silos and — and not really leveraging the benefit of better integrating their messages and their activities.

So, with that, I'm going to turn it back to Ms. Foster to talk through the next steps.

MS. FOSTER:  Great, and before I dive in, I do think we've got a hot mic out there, so if — if you could just please mute — mute, that would be great.

So, there are several next steps in this space that are outlined in Secretary Austin's memo, but I will touch on each of them briefly here.

So, the first is that the Secretary is requiring that each of the service secretaries develop a plan of action as to how they will implement the immediate, intermediate, and long-term recommendations outlined in the report.  Those plans of action are due to the SecDef by October 31st.  This is a really critical step, and as I mentioned at the beginning, what this demonstrates is that the Secretary is elevating this to the highest levels.  Our most senior leaders at the department need to own and be engaged in this problem if we are going to resolve this, and so that's what you see illustrated with this first action.

The second action is that the Secretary is directing P&R to stand up the Service Academy Climate Transformation Task Force.  And really, the — the genesis of this task force is that we found throughout a lot of our other efforts, when it comes to sexual assault or suicide, is that we need to develop an infrastructure that allows for collaboration, but also continued oversight, build some checks and balances into the process and create an environment in which senior leaders can continue to stay engaged and are shaping this process. 

And so that's exactly what you'll see with this Climate Transformation Task Force.  They'll play a critical role in helping the service — the service secretaries develop those plans of action but then they'll continue to stay engaged with both the military departments and the service academies as they implement these plans, to ensure that everything is staying on track and that we are implementing this swiftly and with fidelity.

Finally, the last measure directed in — by Secretary Austin is that we have to rigorously evaluate and measure the programs we're putting in place, right?  This has been an essential component of the work that we've done to implement the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military recommendations.  We have to be able to see what's working, what isn't, and course-correct if we're not seeing the expected change or outcomes.

So I'll just quickly go to the last slide on key takeaways and — and sort of wrap up where I started here and just emphasize that, you know, we believe that this — these actions are essential to implement at the service academies not only because it's essential for our cadets and midshipmen and their life at the academies but because this is critical for their knowledge as future military leaders. This is critical to the readiness of the units that will eventually — they will eventually lead.

The other thing I'll emphasize is, as I've said before, is that — that really one of the things that differentiates this is the comprehensive approach that we've taken and that we're really looking at making some foundational changes so that we can ensure some of these programs can actually be effective and — and take root.

And then it — as I emphasized on the previous slide, this change is only going to be possible if there is — continues to be engagement from the highest levels of the department, and we're building the infrastructure to support and facilitate that.  That is how we're going to get this work and this critical change done.

So with that, Jade, I'm going to turn it back over to you.  And happy to take questions and look forward to discussing this more.

STAFF:  OK.  Yes ma'am.  We have Mike Glenn from Washington Times.

QUESTION:  Hello, thanks a lot.  I was just wondering how — and actually, I — I have a — I have a few questions but I — but I know everyone else does — so how — I don't know, I really don't see how you are sort of connecting a — really, a stressful plebe — you know, the fourth-class system with the — with the rise or alleged rise of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the service academies.  I don't — I don't see that — I mean, where — you know, because the system has always been — you know, it's always been that — that way.  In fact, it's — it's less stressful than it has been historically in the past.  But I was wondering, I mean, how you sort of make that connection, that the one naturally involves the other?

MS. FOSTER:  Yeah, Mike, that's a great question, and I'll make a couple comments and then turn it over to Dr. Tharp.  I think what we really emphasize in this report is that what we're seeing is that what may have been very effective in the past is now having some unintended consequences because of this changing demographic and the changing cohorts that we're seeing coming into the academy due to broader national trends.

Dr. Tharp, do you have more you want to add there?

DR. THARP:  Sure.  What — what we observed was that, you know, the first experience this first year that — that the cadets have at the academy, the message they get through the fourth-class system is this is how you treat other people, right, that — that you exert power when you need to exert power, you don't acknowledge folks when you don't want to, and that they — some of — of them carry that through the rest of their four years — so this — this unhealthy perspective of what's acceptable in terms of how to treat each other.  

So you can imagine how those power dynamics, when taken to the extreme, can really play into things like sexual assault and harassment and bullying.  So, some of that, you know, may happen as part of the — the fourth-class systems, like, you know, the hazing and the — and the bullying, but really what was striking was that the message was "this is OK here and this is how we treat each other."  And unfortunately, that didn't stop once they left their — their freshman year.

STAFF:  Mike, did you have a follow-up?  You said ... 

QUESTION:  Yeah, I just — yeah, I — I was just wondering if — if you've had any reaction from the alumni over this — over this — this evaluation?  How are they taking it?  And that's it for me.

MS. FOSTER:  Yeah, thanks, Mike.  So, the — we've had some engagements throughout the department as we've rolled out this report and actually have had a lot of really valuable engagements with the academies and with the military departments that have helped shape these recommendations and the content in the report.

And I think what — what you'll hear from everyone is everyone wants to urgently get after this problem.  Folks are very focused on driving down this upward trend, and — and so folks are leaning into that.  Certainly, we look forward to continuing to have more engagements as this report is released to the public and — and showing them the data and the information that we have that — that supports the findings in our report.

STAFF:  OK.  Tom Vanden Brook?

QUESTION:  Hi, thanks for doing this.  You mentioned that senior leaders need to take ownership of this and be engaged.  If things don't change, how are they going to be held accountable for this?

MS. FOSTER:  Tom, I — what I would say is that — that certainly that's a — that's a question above my pay grade, but — but what I will say is that — that we are building a system of accountability and we're building a system in which the Secretary is going to be personally engaged in following up with his senior leaders on this issue, and if — if he's not getting the outcomes that he — that he needs from them, then that's a conversation that he can have through some of those forums and those engagements.

I think what we also need to be cognizant of, is that a lot of the changes that we are recommending here are going to take — not only are they going to take time to implement but cultural change does take time, and that is precisely why we're building the — this data infrastructure and — and evaluating and measuring these programs, so that we can have some nearer-term indicators that tell us if this is working or if this isn't, because frankly we do expect that it is going to take some time before we see that — that ultimate behavior shift.

STAFF:  OK.  Alexandria?

QUESTION:  Yeah, hi.  I have two questions.  My first question is, in terms of your report saying that there was greater instances of sexual harassment, sexual assault for incoming midshipmen and cadets, are you able to in any way figure out how much of that is more reporting and how much of it is an actual increase?

MS. FOSTER:  Yeah, absolutely.  Let me turn it over to Dr. Tharp for that question.

DR. THARP:  Yeah, it's — it's a great question, and one that we get a lot because there is a sense that it's — you know, that times have changed a bit and it — it is safer and — to talk about these things and to report them.

Importantly, we asked the questions the same ways over time, so that helps control for kind of how folks may be interpreting it or the emotions that they bring to answering those surveys.  There have been other efforts across the country when organizations have seen increases.  For example, CDC, in one of their surveys, they saw an increase and they thought, "Is this — is this driven by the Me Too movement?  Can we kind of explain that the folks are simply more comfortable reporting versus actually tapping into prevalence?"  And what they found through their analysis is that that really wasn't driving what they were seeing.  They still felt like it was tapping into an increase of the behavior.  Now certainly, that could be playing a role, but it doesn't appear to be driving the increases in incidents that we're seeing.  

QUESTION:  OK, thanks very much.  And I had one other quick question.  Are you tracking this at all, across ROTC programs as you, you know, continue your studies of the academies?

DR. THARP:  So, at this time, the — the ROTC programs are not part of what we're assessing through the on-site effort, but we have other efforts to stay synched up with those ROTC programs and ensuring — and — and also, learning kind of, what are they doing that's similar or different from the service academies?  So, there's definitely some — some discussions and learning going on between the two, but we haven't specifically included ROTC in our visits primarily because our visits right now are to Department of Defense — you know, active duty or reserve component locations, which ROTC, they're not and — and — and you know, the individuals, the cadets in those programs are not.

QUESTION:  Right, thank you.

STAFF:  Luis Martinez, ABC?

QUESTION:  Hi.  Can you hear me?

STAFF:  Yes, sir.

DR. THARP:  Yup, we can hear you.

QUESTION:  OK.  All right, thank you.  Just the — the graph, the first slide that you have that shows the number of cadets experiencing unwanted sexual contact over time, I mean, we've seen those dips over the years.  What do you — what do you attribute those dips to? I, I think we can explain the — why they're going up, but why were those dips — why do we see them on the graph?

DR. THARP:  Yeah, Lou, it's a — it's a great question, and the — the short answer is we don't fully know.  It's hard to isolate those decreases to one specific cause.  What I will say is — is what — what we do know is in 2014, there was a significant amount of action and activity around preventing sexual assault at the academies and so perhaps what you're seeing is — is an outcome of that.  But it's — it's difficult for us to say.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

STAFF:  And the last person is Rick Hutzell?

QUESTION:  Hutzell.

STAFF: Hutzell

QUESTION: Hutzell — close enough.  

STAFF:  OK, thanks.

QUESTION:  Specific to Annapolis, Admiral Davids' confirmation as the first woman superintendent of the Naval Academy is held up in the Senate by Senator Tuberville.  How do you expect that to impact implementation of this specifically in Annapolis?

MS. FOSTER:  Yeah, that's a great question, and I — I think, look, it's — it's going to be hard not to have a confirmed superintendent in place, someone that is — is truly empowered to take and drive action on this.  You know, that absence is — is certainly going to be felt.  What I will say is that the Navy has taken steps to ensure that there is steady leadership at the helm at the academy while we are still in — experiencing these — these GO/FO holds.  But — but steady leadership and — and empowered leadership is — is important to solving this problem.

QUESTION:  And the second question is how will the changes you're talking about be impacted by the president's signing an order that changes the structure of Military Uniformed Code of Justice and chain of command?  I think that was last month.

MS. FOSTER:  Yeah, absolutely.  It's a great question, and — and certainly, I — you know, I think our look was really more focused on these — on — on these on-site installation evaluations, was focused more on kind of prevention and those leading risk factors that may ultimately lead to — to sexual assault.  But accountability is a key piece of this, and — and so we're — we know that the academies are working hard, the military departments are working hard to implement some of the most significant military justice changes that have happened in, you know, many decades.  

What we think is really critical to that and what we saw in our visits is how quickly, as Dr. Tharp articulated, misperceptions can spread, and how quickly — how important it is, to communicate ground truth to cadets and mids.  

And so one of the things and one of the efforts that the Secretary announced in March that we're going to be focused on is communicating to the cadets what this new Office of Special Trial Counsel means to them, how that will change their life, impact this space for them because we want them to understand it from the outset so that — that we're not allowing some of these misperceptions to spread.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

STAFF:  Hey, ma'am, we've got one more question: Ellie, CBS.

QUESTION:  Hi.  Thanks for doing this.  When the prevalence survey came out in March, I think in the briefing you guys talked about how half of the instances, about half, included alcohol.  Did your site visits address alcohol use?  Are there any findings about alcohol use?  And then in this slide deck, the specific app Jodel is mentioned.  Can you explain what that is?  I don't know that social media app.

MS. FOSTER:  Yeah, absolutely.  Let me turn it over to Dr. Tharp to tackle those questions.

DR. THARP:  Sure, thank you.  So, in terms of alcohol, it — it did come up across some of our findings, and in some cases in — in good ways, that the cadets and midshipmen commented on the — the programs that are in place to help address that.  But I think it goes back to one of our key findings, that we can implement all the alcohol and substance misuse prevention or responsible drinking as much as we want, but if — if it's not required, if it's not graded and it's implemented in a toxic climate, it's just not going to have the intended impact.  So that's why we're recommending both to address those climate factors and the structures that may be maintaining them, but also implement within that cadet curriculum skills that are essential to leadership competencies, and these are — these are life skills: stress management, right?  Because folks are drinking for a reason.  So, is it stress?  Is it, you know, other reasons?  And some of these prevention approaches can get at those root causes of the alcohol use.  But it has to be done in the concert with — in concert with these other changes, otherwise, it — we aren't going to see the kinds of impact that — that we're intending to see.

In terms of the application Jodel, this is a — a place-based application, and the real — the thing that makes it so pernicious is that it's anonymous.  So, you have to be within the geographical area of an institution to pick up on that particular social media presence on Jodel, and then the dialogue can unfold completely unfettered.

And what our teams — as — as we went to the academies, we — we joined these networks to — to observe the discussion that was going on, and there is just a lot of misinformation.  You know, when somebody says, you know, "I think I need to get help, I think I need to talk to somebody," you may have voices that are deterring that. 

 Now, you may also have voices that are encouraging that and saying "well, go to — go to this person and talk to this person," but really, actively trying to address some of that misinformation — and unfortunately, sometimes bullying that happens — is needed, but it's just so difficult because it's an anonymous app.

STAFF:  Thanks so much for joining us today.  The embargo breaks after this call.  If you have any updated questions, feel free to reach out to us on that distro list that you agreed to the embargo, and we will answer your questions.  That's it.  Thank you.