By Staff Sgt. Mylinda DuRousseau (USARAK)April 29, 2014
FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Each year as the snow melts in Fairbanks, Alaska sweaters are traded for tank tops, boots for sandals and heels and everywhere you look people seem to be taking a walk, spending time with their family and showing off their spring wardrobe.
"I was a little embarrassed until I looked around at everyone else," said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Childs, motors sergeant for 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, as he modeled his silver and black, sparkly, platform sandals. "I wonder if my feet are going to survive until the end of the day." It was blue skies and warm temperatures when Childs set out to accomplish his mission: walk a mile in women's footwear in support of the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living in Fairbanks' first Walk-A-Mile in Her shoes. The event is meant to raise money and public awareness of rape, sexual assault and gender violence, something Childs said he has had Soldiers experience and that it is something Army leaders need to bring to the forefront.
"It is a state of mind, we need women as much as they need us," said Childs. "If their household is in disarray they are going to have disarray at work. It is important to have balance so they can be in the fight at work."
Childs has served more 13 years in the Army and said he believes there have been great improvements made in addressing sexual assault and harassment.
"I remember when I first came in the military, inappropriate comments were more of the norm," Childs said. "Army culture has changed dramatically with the new programs. As leaders we have to learn how to respect everyone."
As parents of 22-year-old and 17-year-old daughters Childs and his wife, Sgt. 1st Class Andria Childs, motors sergeant for Brigade Support Battalion, said it is important to teach them that they deserve respect.
"Disrespect won't be tolerated," said Andria. "I am confident [they] were raised well enough to know when it is time to leave."
As he repaired a flat tire on his twin 2-year-old sons' stroller Michael said it is important to remember Soldiers have families too.
"When [Soldiers] retire or get out their spouse is who will still be with them," Michael said. "As much effort as you put into the Soldier, you should put into the spouse too."
In the end Michael survived the walk and Andria said she had some great pictures to show their sons one day, in case she ever wanted to embarrass him.