MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar acknowledge Sexual Assault Awareness Month as they prepare different methods of raising awareness about Sexual Assault Prevention and Response throughout April.
Sexual assault has always been an affront to Marine Corps’ values. It negatively impacts Marines, their accomplishments and their mission readiness. With those thoughts in mind, the way commanders raise awareness is constantly changing.
“Sexual assault is the antithesis of what it means to be a United States Marine,” said Maj. Gen. Steven Busby, 3rd MAW commanding general. “We cannot let this issue define us, and it does not represent who we are either. We at the Marine Aircraft Wing are extremely proud of what we have done, and continue to do to this very day. We’ve been working very hard to correct this issue and we are still doing more.”
One of the ways the respective commands would like to raise awareness about sexual assault prevention and response is to make learning more about it more entertaining.
“Even though we are currently making extraordinary efforts to attack the problem, we still have to do something different,” said Busby. “We are getting outside, thinking about the issue differently and attaching ‘fun’ to the training we are providing. We call it ‘Combat Bowling,’ doing something different to get different results.”
Events planned for April vary in type and activity level. On April 3 and 4, Steve Thompson, creator of “No Zebras,” a sexual assault prevention program used in schools, will give classes on leadership to Marines and Sailors. The following week, Marines and Sailors have the opportunity to play golf in a tournament where different sexual assault informative pieces will be scattered at each hole, so they can play and learn at the same time.
A race called the Great SAPR Race, modeled after “The Amazing Race,” is scheduled for April 15. Sixty teams will race to different places aboard the air station taking part in discussions and activities.
There is also scheduled to be a presentation by the Sexual Assault Prevention Team, lasting an hour and a half, that was put together by Marines, for the Marines, explained Busby.
“It’s Marines talking to each other in a very controlled environment in a language they can understand,” said Busby. “I think [the team] has a chance to make a huge impact on our Marines.”
MCAS Miramar is taking part in raising awareness by holding the annual Sexual Assault Awareness Walk toward the end of the month, and Col. John Farnam, air station commanding officer, is genuinely excited to help raise awareness on the subject and also to give advice to his Marines as well.
“Marines tend to think mainly about the right now, and what they should really concern themselves with is how their actions today will affect them in the long run,” said Farnam.
Farnam encourages Marines and Sailors not to put themselves into positions where they can make the wrong choice.
April isn’t just about those who could commit the crime, or being reactive and responding properly. It’s also about those who have been assaulted, proving that they matter and letting them know exactly what can be done for them.
“Don’t bear that burden alone,” said Farnam. “Marines take care of each other, and despite what anyone might think, they are never alone, and we never want them to feel that they are. Seek help. Come to the Uniformed Victim Advocates and take advantage of the programs we have available to you, because you are one of our most important assets, and it breaks my heart to see you suffer like that.”