"Wagonmaster" Soldiers walk to raise sexual assault awareness

By Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs

CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq - 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Soldiers walked 5 kilometers to raise awareness of the seriousness of sexual assault and give speakers an opportunity to educate participants on the subject here April 16.

Before the walk began, Pvt. Megan Moffatt, a College Station, Texas native and mayor-cell help desk clerk for 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sust. Bde., read her award-winning essay followed by comments from Capt. Victoria Ijams, a Saginaw, Mich., native and social worker for 501st Area Support Medical Company, 61st Multifunctional Medical Detachment, 1st Medical Brigade.

Moffatt's essay, titled "Hurts One Affects All," won a Q-West sexual assault awareness essay contest. Through her essay, Moffatt asked readers to imagine the story of a young female Army private who is sexually assaulted shortly after joining the Army. She discussed the different possibilities such as the private's personal situation worsening as a result of not requesting or receiving help. Alternatively, she talked about the private's situation improving by notifying her leader who then reacts appropriately.

Through her essay, Moffatt encouraged victims of sexual assault to come forward and seek help. She also encouraged leaders to be aware of changes in a Soldier's performance as the reason may not be readily observable, and the Soldier might need help.

According to Ijams, sexual assault is more prevalent that some might realize. She said one out of six women are victims of sexual assault as are one in 33 men. Most of the assaults aren't from strangers either, she said, claiming that 73 percent of victims were assaulted by an acquaintance.

Ijams explained that sexual assault could have many strong lasting effects on a victim that could grow worse without help such as depression and even symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Everything is dis-regulated from sleep to their appetite," Ijams said.
She also told leaders, and others that victims might talk to, how important it can be to listen to the victim.

"Don't judge them in your mind as they tell you their story," she said.

She encouraged victims to seek out help from their leadership, chaplains, or victim advocates.

"When one of us is assaulted, we are all assaulted," Moffatt said, reading her essay. "For the hurting of one, affects all."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16