Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) announced its sexual assault awareness campaign with an official ceremony designating April Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) followed by a team-building 5K walk/run.
At the Aerobic Center, JBAB commander Navy Capt. Frank Mays signed an official proclamation April 4 calling on all military personnel and their families to be vigilant in stopping sexual assaults.
“Signing this proclamation was just the first step. I ask you to be alert and learn more about how to take a stand against sexual assault and help to eradicate sexual violence,” Mays said.
The proclamation emphasizes the need for increased awareness of a problem that undermines the core values and safety of the military community.
“Sexual assault is an issue not just in the military but in all of our society, so it is always good to highlight the awareness and the prevention of it. It has a negative impact on our base, our core values and the well-being and safety of everyone involved,” he said.
SAAM, recognized by the military and civilian communities, this year emphasizes the importance of bystander intervention in preventing sexual assault, according to the JBAB Military and Family Support Center (MFSC). It said taking steps in areas like education, training, volunteering and talking with others about sexual assault would foster a safer environment for all.
“I think the first step is raising awareness to the issue of sexual assault. The next step is for all of us to identify ways that we in our own lives can prevent sexual assault,” MFSC representative and installation sexual assault response coordinator Kimberly Lahm, said.
The fun run kicked off after the official ceremony showed solidarity in sexual assault prevention.
“We wanted to raise awareness of sexual assault prevention. This year’s theme is ‘Live Our Values, Step Up to Stop Sexual Assault,’ and a great way to do that is to step out and walk or run to show your support and indicate that you are [against] sexual assault,” Lahm said.
Several people from within and beyond the National Capital Region showed up for the event demonstrating their active commitment to SAAM.
“I wanted to be part of the solution for something we know is a major problem in today’s military, not just in the Army, but in all branches. So I am currently in the process of being certified to be a victim advocacy representative. I wanted to get out and show support and spread awareness,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bernard Simmons Jr.
U.S. Army Sgts. First Class Chantal Kelly and Freddie Suber both traveled more than two hours through early morning rush hour to attend the event.
“Leaving Camp David we had to be on the road at 4:30 am to get down here by six to avoid traffic. We came all the way from Camp David, that’s in Thurmont, Maryland, to show our support,” Suber said.
“We just wanted to come down and support the Sexual Assault Awareness Month program,” Kelly said.
Brian Kiehl, a U.S. Navy Seabee stationed here at JBAB said, “This is a great cause. Me and my Seabee family came out here to support the cause today doing a 5K. It was a great run and a great exercise.”
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) office analyst at JBAB Navy Lt. Dustin Taylor echoed Lahm’s comments on the importance of getting the word out to the greater military community.
“We need to ensure people are aware of the sexual assaults that go on in the Navy and in the military in general,” he said.
Taylor compiles reports and other analytical data on sexual assault incidents for the U.S. Navy.
Lahm says people can help raise awareness of sexual assault in the month of April by wearing a teal ribbon and by participating in the following events:
Dorms Competition and SAPR training on April 15 at 9 a.m. at Giesboro Park. Open to Unaccompanied Housing Residents only. Register with your building manager by April 8.
Sexual Assault Mock General Court Martial Hearing on April 24 at 1 p.m. at the JBAB court room, building P-20.
Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) Self Defense Class on April 28, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Fitness Center II, building 419. Register by calling 202-257-0843.
To schedule SAPR training or to learn more about the SAAM events, please contact installation SARC at email@example.com, phone 202-257-0843. To make a confidential report of sexual assault, please contact the 24/7 SAPR Victim Advocate duty cell phone at 202-258-6717. Confidential support is also available through the DoD Safe Helpline at 877-995-5247.