MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- As the nation rallies to recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, so do the Marines and Sailors of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, who gathered at the 3rd MAW headquarters with their leadership during the SAAPM proclamation and boot signing ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, April 4.
The theme for this year’s awareness campaign, “Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission” was not just words but a pledge by top leaders and subordinate staff from both 3rd MAW and MCAS Miramar to show their support of this noble cause.
SAAPM is an annual campaign recognized in April by both civilian and military communities to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent and report sexual violence. The Department of Defense observes SAAPM by focusing on creating the appropriate culture to eliminate sexual assault and requiring a personal commitment from all service members at every level.
“It’s an incredibly important time for me; a big deal because it’s something that I can’t [tolerate],” said Maj. Gen. Mark R. Wise, the commanding general of 3rd MAW, while steadfast in his pledge to combat sexual assault. “It’s about honor—our honor, courage and commitment—how we conduct ourselves because our personal honor is on the line, and we’re not bystanders.”
Wise, along with his senior enlisted advisor Sgt. Maj. James K. Porterfield, took a proactive approach to informing and educating the Miramar community about the significance of SAAPM by greeting hundreds of Marines, Sailors and civilians as they entered the air station and passing out SAAPM information cards.
“As I greeted Marines and Sailors coming through the gate, I [felt] encouraged by the eye contact I got back acknowledging [their support],” added Wise.
Throughout the DoD, sexual assault has negatively impacted victims, offenders, commands and it also detracts from the war fighters’ performance and readiness. However, through heightened education, engaged intervention and prevention, 3rd MAW leadership hopes to combat this issue, explained Franchette B. Padrigon, 3rd MAW sexual assault and response coordinator.
“This month, it’s important that we recognize the survivors who come forward, and the people who work behind the scenes to ensure [the survivors] have the assistance and resources available to them—whether it be through the victim advocates, the SARCs or the commanders because it’s about the team effort and support [to these survivors],” Padrigon continued.
Other awareness efforts included Wing personnel holding signs at various intersections on the air station and setting up an information booth outside 3rd MAW HQs displaying sexual assault prevention and response clothing, pamphlets and a variety of SAPR trinkets and materials.
“This is our opportunity to step in when we witness something that’s not going right; we can stomp this out,” said Wise, who looked directly at the crowd before asking, “can I count on you?” to which all replied, “Yes!”
For more information about SAAPM, please contact your command SARC or visit www.sapr.mil.