YUMA, Ariz. - Most units do a 5K, a motorcycle ride around town, or set up booths to raise awareness and educate Marines about important public issues, but Staff Sgt. Aaron McCatty, a Sexual Assault Uniformed Victim Advocate with Marine Aircraft Group 13, went above and beyond by organizing a special event to call attention to Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which lasts the entire month of April.
During the early morning hours of April 12, 2013, MAG-13 Headquarters Marines came together as a whole to do a high intensity tactical training workout at the gym aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. McCatty chose to do a physical training session to support SAAM since unit PT is already established within MAG-13 Headquarters. He felt that focusing on this issue by incorporating the Marines’ training is more meaningful and motivating than to create a brand new event that they aren’t accustomed to.
“Anytime that you can change how people view something, is always really good, and I feel great about it. You should see the look on everyone’s faces when it’s such a grim subject. The Marines really have a different perspective on it now than before,” says McCatty. “This might have instilled some courage (in the Marines) that wasn’t there before to maybe intervene or to not be careless or reckless with their liberty.”
Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a nationally recognized initiative to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate individuals on how to prevent sexual assault. Throughout this month, many of you may notice teal ribbons placed throughout the base. This is because teal is the color associated with SAAM, and the teal ribbon is the official symbol of sexual assault awareness. During the month of April, commands and installations take this opportunity to highlight raising awareness and the prevention of sexual violence and assault through campaigns and special events.
Before beginning the PT session the Marines, all wearing white shirts, stood together in a circle with a handful of the powder and threw it up in the air as a symbol of their support for sexual assault prevention. Soon after, the Marines shirts were no longer white, they were covered in teal.
The HITT workout involved 20 minutes of dynamic warm-ups, a circuit, and a cool down. During the cool down session, the UVA’s presented prevention and awareness information about sexual assault to their Marines. McCatty and Sergeant Marisol Williams, FIT Admin Chief and UVA, talked to the Marines about being aware and different tactics on how to intervene if they are put in a situation where they are able to prevent an assault from occurring.
“I think that this event was a great success, especially bringing out the teal to show support,” says Staff Sergeant Marion Villanova, a sexual assault uniform victim advocate with Headquarters, MAG-13. “The school circle during the cool down to spread awareness really got the attention of the Marines.”
Every unit must have two Uniformed Victim Advocates. When the opportunity to become a UVA arrived, McCatty volunteered.
“It is a very rewarding job, because it is such a serious subject and it is a topic that no one really wants to think about. So when it does get brought up it is very important that it takes precedence,” says McCatty. “So for me to be able to help someone else is rewarding, especially in a time of need. In a time of confusion and maybe chaos, they’re looking for someone who has they’re best interest in mind.”
This event received an outstanding show of support, with UVA’s from other units, civilian victim advocates, counselors, the installation Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Mary Chipman, Station Commander Colonel Rob Kuckuk, and MAG-13 Commander Colonel Michael Gough all in attendance to show their support. For all these Marines and staff to come and be involved speaks volumes about the hard work that Staff Sergeant McCatty dedicated to make the event happen for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Other events this month at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma include information table with giveaways at the Exchange and Branch Medical, a lunch honoring Uniformed Victim Advocates who have been credentialed with The National Organization for Victim Advocates, and a SAAM Motorcycle Ride April 30, 2013.