By Mr. Richard RzepkaOctober 18, 2014
Okinawa, Japan -- U.S. Army Garrison -- Okinawa hosted the fourth annual 'The Unmasking' -- a Joint Services Pink and Purple Gala and Soiree -- Oct. 18 at Havana's on Torri Station to recognize survivors of breast cancer and domestic violence.
October marks both National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and officials at U.S. Army Garrison - Okinawa have worked to raise awareness of what senior officials here call serious public health issues.
"We are honored to host the Pink and Purple Gala on Torii Station and contribute to raise awareness on Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence in our community," said Garrison Commander Lt. Col Eric Martinez.
"The stories of the victims and survivors touched each one of us tonight … We thank them for sharing and for their contributions to raise awareness on both campaigns," said Martinez.
The event was supported by the Joint Armed Services committee, which included Family Advocacy Program members from Kadena Air Force Base and Torii Station, Kadena Air Force Base, Health and Awareness Center and the U.S. Naval Hospital's Breast Health Center. U.S. Army Garrison -- Okinawa's Directorate of Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Army Community Service also helped make the event a success
"This year's theme: 'Relationships should be safe, respectful and positive' was echoed at this year's Joint Services Committee, Unmasking Gala and Soirée," said Installation Victim Advocate Coordinator Joanna Ashley, who coordinated the event.
The key-note speaker for the evening was a survivor of domestic violence who shared an inspirational story of strength, courage and resilience. Several survivors of breast cancer participated in an unmasking pageant, where they walked the red carpet, removed their masks and gave inspirational testimonies of hope, strength and determination.
"Their inspirational testimonies raised awareness, reduced the stigma and encouraged early detection as the key to breast cancer survival," said Ashley.
Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths for women in the United States, and mammograms can detect early-stage breast cancer as early as three years before a lump can be felt, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga.
The National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., reports that more than 192,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, while every nine seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten.
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