MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and throughout the month members of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar’s leadership and community participated in events and organized displays raising awareness on MCAS Miramar, California.
According to Jeffery McKennie, a sexual assault response coordinator at MCAS Miramar, the purpose of SAAM is to raise awareness of sexual assault and to host several events highlighting the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program, which provides guidance, victim advocacy resources and advice for victims throughout the sexual assault reporting process.
“We are here to train commands, prevent sexual assaults from happening and to make people aware of what consent is and what it isn’t,” said McKennie. “The goal is always to prevent a sexual assault in the first place. Without our people, we cannot do the mission and once they’re sexually assaulted, they’re distracted from the mission.”
Maj. Gen. Mark Wise, commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Col. Jason Woodworth, commanding officer of MCAS Miramar, Sgt. Maj. Michael Walton, sergeant major of MCAS Miramar, and Sgt. Maj. James Porterfield, former 3rd MAW sergeant major, passed out SAAM cards at each of MCAS Miramar’s base entrances on April 4.
Later on the same day, other MCAS Miramar and 3rd MAW leaders joined them in the proclamation and boot signing, showing their commitment to ending sexual assault.
In addition to these activities, SAPR staff also organized “Forward March,” an annual SAPR walk; displayed several resource booths throughout the base; and scheduled “Girls on Guard,” a basic self-defense class exclusively for women, to further spread awareness about SAAM and SAPR programs and resources.
“The activities are important, the SAPR Walk, proclamation, boot tracing … because it brings the command’s attention to it and allows the Marines, who have the potential to be impacted, to see that their leadership cares,” said Woodworth. “We’re just trying to help them and make sure that they are protected in the future.”
The SAPR program has changed over the years and now allows restricted and unrestricted reporting, the ability to report sexual assaults that took place prior to service, an expedited transfer option for victims and more counseling resources for affected personnel.
“We claim this greatness as Marines. We claim this long history, lineage of excellence in combat and people join the Marine Corps for a challenge and to be part of something that’s the best. Part of [that], is being an example to the rest of the world of what greatness is,” said Woodworth. “We need to make sure that we are, every single day, doing the best we can to stop it. We consider ourselves a reflection of society and this goes on in society … That doesn’t mean we can’t stop it. That doesn’t mean that we can’t put an end to it in the Marine Corps, in the Navy, in the naval services.”