Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of involuntary labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud or coercion. The Department of Defense began the Combating Trafficking In Persons Program in 2014 in order to mitigate the effects of human trafficking not just in the U.S., but also abroad. (U.S. Air Force graphic)
Human trafficking, a grave violation of human rights, affects millions globally. In response, U.S. President Joe Biden has designated January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness and bolster efforts against this heinous crime. The U.S. Defense Department (DOD), committed to this cause, has been actively involved in combating trafficking through its Combating Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) office. This initiative underscores the necessity of informed and proactive measures in preventing human trafficking.
The Role of the DOD in Human Trafficking Prevention
The DOD, with its vast reach of 3.4 million civilian and military personnel, is uniquely positioned to combat human trafficking. The CTIP office is at the forefront of these efforts, providing innovative training and resources aimed at prevention. This initiative is critical, considering the complex and pervasive nature of human trafficking which deprives countless individuals of their freedom and dignity.
Chaplains' Training and Toolkit: A Key Initiative
One of the DOD's significant steps is the specialized training and toolkit for chaplains. Chaplains often serve as the first point of contact for victims, survivors, and their families, making them crucial in the fight against trafficking. The new CTIP chaplains' training, alongside a comprehensive toolkit, equips them to address various aspects such as loss of belief, survivor's guilt, and moral injury – all common experiences among those affected by human trafficking.
The Chaplains Toolkit includes action cards, survivor stories, videos, infographics, and other resources. It's designed to be a practical, 'grab-and-go' resource aiding chaplains in several scenarios:
- Providing spiritual guidance to trafficked individuals.
- Counseling military members who were victims of trafficking before enlistment.
- Identifying potential victims and offering preventive spiritual advice.
- Assisting trafficking survivors dealing with moral injury.
- Supporting families who have lost members to trafficking.
This toolkit empowers chaplains to offer not just spiritual guidance but also essential referrals to other resources.
Healthcare Personnel Training and Toolkit: Another Pillar in the Fight
Healthcare providers, often the first responders for victims, play a vital role in identifying and treating individuals impacted by human trafficking. Recognizing this, the DOD has developed a specific CTIP training and toolkit for healthcare personnel. This initiative is vital for ensuring that healthcare settings are equipped to identify and respond effectively to human trafficking cases.
The healthcare toolkit, mirroring the chaplains' version, includes action cards, pocket cards, desk guides, case studies, and other resources tailored to healthcare professionals. It covers a range of critical topics:
- Health issues faced by trafficking victims and survivors.
- Indicators of human trafficking in medical settings.
- Barriers to accessing healthcare for victims and survivors.
- Best practices for identifying, treating, referring, and reporting cases.
- Usage of International Classification of Diseases codes specific to human trafficking.
- Guidelines on mandatory reporting and the effective use of electronic medical records.
Accessing the Training and Toolkits
All these training modules and toolkits are accessible through the CTIP website, ensuring wide availability for DOD personnel. This accessibility is crucial for the effective dissemination of information and resources across the department.
The DOD's commitment to combating human trafficking through its CTIP office, with specialized training and toolkits for chaplains and healthcare personnel, is a commendable step towards eradicating this global scourge. By equipping its personnel with the necessary tools and knowledge, the DOD plays a pivotal role in not just responding to human trafficking but also in preventing it. National Human Trafficking Prevention Month serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle against trafficking and the need for continued vigilance and action from all sectors of society.