Have a safe, enjoyable Valentine’s Day

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Valentine's Day is one of the few "officially recognized" romantic times of the year to share with a special someone.

Some people go to dinner; others buy candies and cards; even a select few may decide to surprise their love interest with a big thoughtful night.

"I just have normal Valentine's Day plans," said Airman 1st Class April Schmoe, 17th Medical Group dental assistant. "I'm going to wear something nice for my boyfriend, and buy him a present, and then, we'll possibly go out to dinner or maybe I'll cook something for him. I think it'll be a pretty relaxed and fun time."

When a couple goes out on a romantic date, the possibility to take it to the next level could arise, and the events of the night could put some pressure on one or both to have sexual relations, so it is important to be aware or cognizant of your partner's desires.

"It is important to establish clear boundaries every time--even if you are in a relationship or have been intimate in the past," said Donna Casey, 17th Training Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. "People should always remember to treat each encounter as a new one, and ensure the other party gives consent every time."

Getting consent is even more important after you have had a drink or two. Alcohol use can alter a person's state of mind changing the intent of consent, so practice caution if drinking.

According to Casey, an individual can still consent if they've had a few drinks, but if they are incapacitated, they cannot consent. Only the individual can know their limit. A safe practice is to wait until the individual is sober to engage in any consensual sexual activities.

Sometimes people make mistakes and that's when they could use a good wingman.

"Intervention is key in the prevention of sexual assault," said Casey. "If you see something that doesn't seem right, ensure you are an active bystander. There are many situations where individuals were around before an incident occurred and saw things that didn't seem right but did not intervene. Later, they learned that an assault occurred. Being an active bystander can change someone's life forever! With that being said, always have a good wingman, and stay with your wingman no matter what; always stick together."

Col. Thomas Schmidt, 17th Training Wing Vice Commander, also stresses the importance of consent and urges everyone to reflect on healthy relationships this Valentine's Day.

"Valentine's Day presents a wonderful opportunity to affirm our love, commitment and appreciation to those that we hold dear," said Schmidt. "Given the recent Department of Defense and Air Force-wide emphasis on topics such as dignity, respect and resiliency, this year's Valentine's Day also presents an opportunity for us to collectively reflect on the broader importance of healthy and sound interpersonal relationships, both sexual and non-sexual in nature."

This year, have a fun, safe Valentine's Day, while defining each other's boundaries and making sure to look out for one another.