By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Justin Johndro, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest
SILVERDALE, Wash. – Sailors from commands in the Pacific Northwest gathered at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor April 25 for a 1.5 mile run to show support for Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).
Participating commands included the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Marine Corps Security Force Battalion Bangor, Transient Personnel Unit Bangor, Submarine Development Squadron Five, Naval Computer Intelli-Communication Area Master Station Pacific Detachment Puget Sound (NCTAMSPAC) and Strategic Weapons Facility.
April is the designated month for sexual assault awareness and is dedicated to educating Sailors, increasing awareness throughout the Navy and its communities. During the month, commands host training and creative educating sessions to honor victims and advocate bystander intervention.
“Sexual assault can ruin a Sailors career,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Christopher Towle, who was a participant in the event. “Anything to help spread the awareness of sexual assault is great, and mixing in a little physical training with the run was perfect.”
By working together, Sailors Navy-wide can be mindful of the damage of sexual assault, how they can prevent it and how to respond to incidents involving sexual misconduct so they can deter them from happening again. The run helps raise awareness and educate Sailors.
“Today we took the time to be social and take some opportunities to be in the shoes of the other gender,” said Sharlyne Hays, NBK sexual assault response coordinator. “We are trying to expand our awareness in our community.”
The Department of Defense SAPR theme for this year is “Live our values, step up and stop sexual assaults,” focusing on bystander intervention. It conveys the message that sexual assault has far-reaching effects on the victim of an assault and the Navy’s mission-readiness.
“This kind of platform provides an opportunity to reach out to each other and socialize with each other in a way to increase our awareness and our understanding of sexual assault,” said Hays. “It provides an opportunity to connect with one another and understand that this isn’t something that just happens to a person, it happens to an entire group, and it takes an entire community to help raise that victim back up. As a community, we are trying to help change the world for the better and impact the experience of the victim.”
More than 150 Sailors and civilians participated in the run, and at the conclusion of the event the Take a Stand Against Sexual Assault Trophy was awarded to NCTAMSPAC for having the most participants.