News: Soldiers run to raise awareness about sexual assault
Story by Spc. Richard Colletta
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq — Soldiers, Airmen and civilians on Contingency Operating Base Speicher participated in a six-kilometer run and walk, Feb. 12, to raise awareness about sexual assault prevention as part of the Army's sexual assault prevention campaign "I. A.M. Strong."
"I. A.M. Strong" was launched in 2008, and was developed to encourage Soldiers to "Intervene, Act, and Motivate" to prevent sexual assault before it occurs. Top Army leaders have been very vocal that when it comes to sexual harassment and assault, the Army has a "zero tolerance" policy.
The command sergeant major of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Command Sgt. Maj. Michael S. McCoy said that sexual harassment and assault have no place on the battlefield or anywhere in the Army.
"We have to live, eat, sleep together and as you know fight together in combat and anything that distracts from good order and discipline is always going to be a hindrance to us, so the better educated we make the Soldiers and everyone on these programs is going to make us a better organization," he said.
The event was organized by the "Dragon" Brigade Equal Opportunity Office, and information about the Army's "I. A.M. Strong" campaign, and how individual Soldiers can help prevent sexual assault was handed out to all participants.
Pvt. 1st Class Shamaine McCotry, a Soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 701st Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division participated in this event because raising awareness about sexual assault is something that is very important to her.
"[The military] is the last place you should expect it, but unfortunately it does happen," McCotry said. "This is a real issue and something we need to be aware of."
Equal Opportunity Representative for the "Dragon" Brigade, Sgt. 1st Class Sherri Williams said that the event helped raise awareness about sexual assault prevention and also brought the base community together. She reiterated that sexual harassment and assault should not be accepted or tolerated anywhere in the military.
"No man or woman should be assaulted, especially while they're serving their country," she said.
(More information on the Army's Sexual Harassment / Assault Response & Prevention program, including the "I. A.M. Strong" Campaign, can be found at www.sexualassault.army.mil)