MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – --
The crowd began to move forward, slowly at first but picked up to a steady pace within moments; the 4th Annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month Walk had begun.
The procession met to show support for spreading awareness about sexual assault, an issue Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, called a “black mark” on the Marine Corps’ illustrious reputation.
Even San Diego officials came out to show their support for sexual assault awareness. Mayor Bob Filner, mayor of the city of San Diego, declared today Military Sexual Assault Awareness Day for San Diego, giving the signed proclamation to Col. John Farnam, commanding officer MCAS Miramar, and the military as a whole.
Under Farnam’s direction, Marines across the air station stepped up to the plate to educate others when Amos called to his leadership to take a stand against this heinous crime.
“Most Marines, 99.9 percent at least, are good people and are willing to help those in need,” said Farnam. “We’ve done as the commandant asked, we hold annual trainings and seminars to educate our Marines, but we still look to do more. I think that a little education goes a long way; I want to teach my Marines what they need to do the right thing.”
Walkers proudly put one foot in front of the other under the banner of this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month theme, “We own it … We’ll solve it … Together.”
“This is a wonderful event,” said Deborah Williams, a walker who served 33 years in the United States Air Force and a Milwaukee native. “When I was serving we didn’t have the support from the higher ups like we do today. We didn’t have walks, runs or as much aid for victims as we do today and it’s heartening to see this kind of support.”
After starting at The Great Escape, the crowd walked to the Parade Deck, where Farnam, guest speakers and survivors of sexual assault spoke about their experiences with sexual assault in the military.
One such speaker was Tara Jones, president and founder of the National Women Veterans Association of America. Jones is also a survivor of military sexual assault after having served in the United States Navy for 6 years.
“Survivors, like myself, can suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder almost as easily as those serving on the front lines [of combat],” said Jones. “It’s a great day when people are encouraging victims to come out of the darkness and that they have support.”
If you see or suspect sexual assault, it is your responsibility to stop it and report it. Remember: we are all in this together, and if everyone does their part, sexual assault won’t stand a chance.
For more information or to report sexual assault please contact your unit Uniformed Victim Advocate or the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response helpline at 858-864-2815.