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NEWS | April 27, 2011

Hundreds take a stand during SAAM at WS

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer Hudson Joint Base Charleston public affairs

A thunderous roar broke the silent dawn as hundreds of feet pounded against the paved streets of Joint Base Charleston-Weapons Station during a race-for-the-cause event held in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, April 27.

In an unspoken stand against sexual assault, more than 100 Sailors and civilians joined forces by participating in the base-wide three-mile run or 1.5-mile walk to increase awareness of sexual assault throughout the local community.

"Sexual assault is a serious problem, and this base-wide event is just one of the ways that our Sailors can reach out to our community to help increase the awareness about this malicious and intolerable act," said Naval Support Activity Executive Officer Cmdr. Charles Phillip.

"The Navy has no room for these types of acts. This race not only lets victims know there is support out there for them, but increases the awareness of the seriousness of the crime," he continued. "It may only take one person to make a change, but together we are stronger, standing united against sexual assault."

The event, hosted by the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program and the WS Athletic Department, provided participants with a teal ribbon to wear upon their shirts, signifying their personal pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about sexual violence against men, women or children.

"This race is a great way to bring together all our service members in one unified fight against sexual assault. My hope is that every individual that participated in the race or walk this morning will be more aware of the severity of this crime and will no longer condone or stay silent when it comes to sexual violence of our men and women," said Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Tiffany Minaudo-Mizzell.

"In cooperation with the Navy's zero-tolerance on sexual assault, the Department of Defense in April launched its newest initiative, a DoD Safe Helpline in order to support victims of sexual assault," she continued. "This is just one of the many ways that the DoD is able to provide immediate assistance to a victim. Here at JB CHS-WS, we want our service members to know they are not alone during their time of crisis. Commands, advocates and other essential personnel will work hand-in hand to ensure that our Sailors are taken care of."

Taking first place in the men's category with a time of 19:50 was Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Bradley Boyd, attached to Navy Nuclear Power Training Command at JB CHS-WS.

"I think this race was outstanding and was held for a great cause that helps spread awareness about sexual assault," he said. "When I think of the term sexual assault I immediately think about all the hurt and emotional roller coasters those victims may be going through; it is a terrible crime to commit upon a person. Supporting this race was just one way that I can make a stand against sexual violence."

Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Mary McGuckin, also attached to NNPTC, took first place in the women's category with a time of 26:42. "I think that it is easy to let subjects such as sexual assault to go left unnoticed or not talked about very often," she said. "Having events like this race was a great way to get the whole base involved in spreading the word about sexual assault and it sheds a little light onto the severity of the subject."

According to the Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2009 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, more than 400 sexual assaults were reported in the Navy. And according to national statistics, every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. Of those assaulted, approximately two-thirds of the assaults are committed by someone the victim knew and 60 percent go unreported.

"Sexual assault is not only an assault upon the victim but against the whole command. It affects the person's capability to fulfill the Navy's mission and it goes against our core values," said Commander Phillip. "Sailors need to take care of each other. If you see someone in a situation where there's potential for a sexual assault, intervene. Remember, our safety and the readiness of the fleet depends on each of our Sailors looking out for their shipmates."