Observance 365

  • Published
  • 436th Airlift Wing

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month is recognized in April by both civilian and military communities. But our observation won't stop there.

 Here at Dover Air Force Base, one of our priorities is the safety of our Airmen and their families. We are heavily focused on the care and readiness of our Airmen, and one aspect of this is being prepared with licensed individuals ready to assist in matters of Sexual Assault, Prevention and Response. 

Every day, we prepare for any event that may occur in the hope that we never need to utilize our resources. Our team, newly equipped with two additional victim advocates, is ready and able to help should the need arise. 


Mark Zinkil

 I spent 14 years in the Navy as an Intelligence Specialist with deployments at sea and to Afghanistan, and left my time in the service as a Chief Petty Officer. During that time, I had a few Sailors who needed to use Sexual Assault, Prevention and Response services and they received the help they needed at the time. However, during my mobilization to Kabul in 2016-2017, one of my junior enlisted members did not receive the support they needed after reporting a sexual assault and that spurred me to be a positive change in the world.

  After returning home, I decided to change careers into the helping professions and pursued my Master of Social Work. While working and accruing my clinical hours for independent licensure, I worked outpatient helping folks with mental illness including veterans and service members. 

Myself, my husband, and our dog moved last year to Salisbury, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore for his work as a Professor at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. When I saw the SAPR Victim Advocate opening here at Dover Air Force Base, I jumped at the chance to help professionalize the SAPR workforce and to help give back to service members after having packed away my uniform. Learning the Air Force way has been an interesting challenge but everyone has been very helpful with the service transition. I look forward to the many years to come helping out all the members here in the Dover community and settling down here in Delaware.


Autumn Prystajko

I have been a sexual assault victim advocate with the SAPR program since September 2023. Before joining the SAPR team, I was a Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate with the Family Advocacy Program for Dover Air Force Base for four years. Prior to working on base, I worked as a case manager for children currently in or aging out of foster care and part-time in an emergency domestic violence shelter for women and children.

I graduated from Wilmington University in 2016 with a master’s degree in administration of justice with a Concentration in Criminal Behavior. I am a nationally credentialed advocate with a designation of Comprehensive Victim Intervention Specialist and a Certified Department of Defense Sexual Assault Advocate at Level III.

I am a mother to three amazing children, and I love to volunteer for different organizations in my free time. I am currently the Delaware State Leader for Mission 22, a non-profit that provides support to veterans and their families, addressing post-traumatic stress, military sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, suicide risk and other challenges. I also volunteer as a court-appointed special advocate with the state of Delaware CASA program, advocating for abused and neglected children as they navigate the court system.

As a victim advocate, my main focus is providing care and support to survivors and ultimately getting them on the path toward healing at their own pace. Navigating through the aftermath of a traumatic event can be very overwhelming and frightening, so having an advocate to walk alongside the survivor during the entirety of the process can make a world of difference. Whether it be accompanying them to the hospital or a law enforcement interview, explaining the different reporting options, referring them to different helping agencies, or just being there to listen, these acts can help alleviate some of the burden that is placed on a survivor that had the courage to come to our office for help.

My favorite saying, which I implement in my professional and volunteer work, is, “When you can’t look at the bright side, I will sit with you in the dark.” Sometimes, all a survivor needs is someone there with them to know that they are not alone during this difficult time. I thoroughly believe that the presence of someone checking in on you, being there with their undivided attention, and knowing you have someone in your corner is so valuable and powerful.