MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- Marines and Sailors with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing took part in The Great Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Race aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., April 15.
Modeled after the television show, “The Amazing Race,” the event took 50 six-person teams from their starting point to 10 different locations to take part in discussions and activities. Each team was guided by a set of riddles and clues that led them from place to place covering more than five miles.
“It’s about getting out of the lecture format and getting Marines and Sailors to understand the full scope of sexual assault in no uncertain terms,” said Maj. Gen. Steven Busby, 3rd MAW commanding general. “I believe that all Marines are very dedicated and determined [to help]. We just have to get them to understand the reality of the issue, and once they fully understand that, they’re going to take care of themselves. We’ve seen it with [alcohol-related incidents and driving under the influence], where once the Marines understood it, the numbers went down for occurrences – and that’s what we are hoping will happen here.”
The Naval Consolidated Brig was one of many locations visited during the race. While there, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers with the brig made a simulation of being processed as an inmate as real as possible.
“We also want these guys to know that if they do sexually assault someone, this is what’s waiting for them and it will not be a pleasant experience,” said Sgt. Michael Sadowski, a correctional specialist with the brig. “I think this step is one of the most important because it’s kind of like being scared straight for sexual assault. The ones participating can take this back to their units, and tell their peers what they went through and how it affected them.”
Some of the activities included weaving through cones by the Marine Mart while wearing “beer goggles,” a set of goggles designed to simulate the effects of alcohol consumption. Participants also attended a simulated court-martial to demonstrate how commands prosecute those convicted of sexual assault, and other stations designed to get participants actively engaged in the subjects.
Some of the lessons learned throughout the day stuck with Marines in different ways.
“The brig was a big eye-opener for me,” said Sgt. Hai Vuong, an imagery analyst with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3. “I have nieces and nephews, and I’m very family oriented; so when they told me I wouldn’t be able to see my family until they were 18 years old, it opened my eyes wide to what they were saying.”
Participants went to the Bob Hope Theater for an awards ceremony at the end of the race. First place competitors received a paid trip to Big Bear for a weekend, six second place competitors received $100 gift cards to the Marine Corps Exchange, six third place competitors received $50 gift cards and six fourth place competitors received $25 gift cards. The awards ceremony also featured drawings for gift cards to Starbucks and Chick-fil-A.
Some Marines found this version of learning to be beneficial in more than one way.
“It’s good for us to learn in a different way,” said Vuong. “We get to learn, train our bodies and really open up our minds to sexual assault prevention and response – definitely an amazing program.”