News: Service members fight sexual assault during 5K
Story by Sgt. Ryan Twist
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The month of April offers service members a chance to recognize and combat sexual assault, by raising awareness and understanding to support victims and prevent future assaults.
On April 9, service members participated in the Sexual Assault Awareness Month 5K run at Holt Stadium, in observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Sgt. 1st Class Johnnie M. Mitchell, the equal opportunity adviser and deployed sexual assault response coordinator with the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), said she and the committee put together the event.
"This was just one of many events for this month," said Mitchell, a Sylvania, Ga., native.
A luncheon, a senior leaders' conference and movies every Friday at Morale, Welfare and Recreation east at 7 p.m. are all part of the observance as well, said Master Sgt. Charlotte S. Harvey, the career counselor with the 13th ESC out of Fort Hood, Texas. She said the observance is crucial to a military-wide awareness of sexual assault.
"We are standing together against sexual assault," said Harvey, a Clarksville, Tenn., native, "to educate everyone on sexual assault and [teach them] that no means no."
She said she wanted those who have been sexually assaulted to know they are not alone, that someone cares for them and will stand with them against this important issue.
Mitchell said she was pleased with the turnout at the run.
"It reinforces the message we are sending about eliminating sexual assault," she said.
Harvey said the Department of Defense looks for trends so it can develop a course of action to reduce sexual assaults.
She said she was happy to help with the run.
"Although I didn't run, I enjoyed volunteering and supporting the event," said Harvey. "[It] was very successful. There [were] over 800 runners that supported the SAAM run."