RICHMOND, Va. - After Spc. Bethuel Kiplagat finished ahead of approximately 60 runners in the 80th Training Command (TASS) headquarters' third annual 5k run and walk in observance of Sexual Assault and Awareness Month, he said service members should set the standard for sexual assault prevention and serve as examples for the rest of society.
Kiplagat was one of 21 active duty Fort Lee Soldiers who took part in the event at the Defense Supply Center, Richmond, Virginia, April 22, 2015, along with approximately 39 other participants, which included Reserve Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and family members.
"I volunteered because stopping sexual harassment and sexual assault is a big thing in the Army now," said Kiplagat, who, along with the 20 other Fort Lee Soldiers, is assigned to P Company 244th Battalion, 23rd Quartermaster Brigade.
The 244th Battalion victim advocate asked for volunteers to participate in the run-walk event after he attended an information fair hosted by the 80th TC headquarters. He coordinated the collaboration with Daniel Fink, the 80th TC victim advocate.
"April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so this gives Soldiers an opportunity to ... be active and show they're ... supporting the campaign to stop sexual assaults," Fink said.
SAAM is designed to raise awareness and promote the prevention of sexual assault through the use of special events and public education. Sexual assault is defined as any sexual act directed against another person that is forcible and or against the person's will, to include when that person is unable to give consent.
Prior to the run-walk event, the 80th TC headquarters conducted a domestic abuse and child abuse information fair, and two self-defense classes. The headquarters is scheduled to participate in Denim Day 2015, an event in which people are encouraged to wear jeans (denim) in order to raise awareness of rape and sexual assault.
"More people are [now] aware of the options that they have if they're victims of sexual assault ... and more commanders now realize that they have a direct impact on a unit when it comes to the SHARP program," said William Downey, 80th TC Sexual Harassment Assault and Response Prevention manager.
The success of the run-walk event increases the possibility of future SHARP collaborations between the 80th TC and 23rd QM Brigade Soldiers.
"The good thing is, this helps us coordinate and bridge to other facilities and other programs," said Mary Ann Lobdell, the 23rd QM Brigade victim advocate.