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    MCI-West commanding general aims to increase SAPR effectiveness



    Story by Lance Cpl. Angela Wilcox 

    Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

    A threat to the safety of any one Marine is a threat to the entire force, and unfortunately, the issue of sexual assault persists today. The majority of service members are doing what is right, yet this problem continues to weaken our force and erode trust among troops.

    Efforts to prevent sexual assault have been made across the Department of Defense, yet there is always more progress to be made in eradicating this crime.

    “We (this means all of us) have not moved the needle in eliminating the problem,” said U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Jason Woodworth, commanding general, Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

    Woodworth assumed command in June and quickly set the tone for the future of SAPR aboard the installation. In September, he released a policy letter emphasizing the importance of the program.

    “Our Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs have done an outstanding job in the response portion… with unmatched support to victims. But the fact remains that there are too many victims.”

    In Fiscal Year 2020, the Marine Corps as a whole received 881 reports of sexual assault from Marines for incidents that occurred during military service. Woodworth seeks to make improvements regarding this issue at MCI-West, focusing on the prevention portion of SAPR.

    To help prevent sexual assault, it is vital to understand the demographic of victims. A sobering fact regarding these crimes is that many sexual assaults at MCI-West occur within the first 60 days of joining their new unit. The assailant is typically someone they know.

    Sexual assault is a command problem, and the responsibility to prevent it falls on leaders at all levels. Becoming familiar with Marine Corps order 1752.5C, SAPR Program, and sustaining a positive command climate is crucial in catching indicators of an assault.

    The unfortunate reality is that the individual Marine should also take actions to protect themselves from becoming victims. Education about how to maintain healthy relationships and responsible alcohol use are critical steps forward, as well as employing a “buddy” system whenever possible, can decrease the likelihood of a sexual assault occurring.

    Leaders must understand that many victims, for their own reasons, never come forward. MCI-West supports victims who make the difficult decision to tell their stories. Resources for victims aboard the installation include Uniformed Victim Advocates, Installation Sexual Assault Response Coordinators, SAPR Victim Advocates, and counselors at the Community Counseling Center.

    Even one victim of sexual assault is one too many, and each Marine should take instances of sexual assault personally. As Marines, it is your responsibility to look out for one another, on and off duty. It takes Marines of all ranks working together as a community to uphold a zero-tolerance approach to sexual assault.

    Woodworth stands with all MCI-West personnel in this fight. Awareness is the first step in the right direction.

    “Eliminating sexual assault will take a coordinated community effort, and I challenge everyone to accept responsibility for achieving this goal. Our Marines, Sailors, Civilian Marines and family members deserve nothing less.”



    Date Taken: 10.13.2021
    Date Posted: 11.01.2021 19:57
    Story ID: 408478
    Location: CAMP PENDLETON, CA, US 

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