FORT GORDON, GA. -- The 35th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade held a " Walk a Mile In Their Shoes" ruck march in support of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM).
In 2001 Frank Baird created the first "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" in honor of all women who faced sexual violence. Realizing that women are not the only victims of sexual violence, the 35th Signal Brigade stands with victims both male and female and changed it to "Walk a Mile in Their Shoes".
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, a time where civilian and military communities come together to raise awareness of efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault and to support survivors. This month also reinforces the mindset that all members of the Army Team are empowered and have the responsibility to address sexual assault, sexual harassment, retaliation and the behaviors that lead to such indiscipline.
In an effort to prevent sexual assault in the military the Lion Brigade puts special emphasis on this topic in April.
"Our combat boots are gender neutral and so is sexual violence" said Master Sgt. Tina Boone, 35th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. "We are wearing our ruck sack to symbolize the burden that sexual assault and sexual harassment has on victims and the unit."
SAAPM is an opportunity for the Army's leadership to demonstrate to Soldiers, Department of the Army Civilians and Family members that prevention of sexual assault/harassment remains a top priority for the Army.
"I need your help! We have to stop this (sexual assault/harassment) because it's the same thing as fratricide on the battlefield. It takes one member out of the formation, out of the fight because of everything that person has to deal with. It takes a platoon of people to help that person get back in the fight. We can't afford that and we will never accept that under any circumstances. So I need you to look out for one another," said Col. Christopher O'Connor, Commander, 35th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade. "We talk about taking care of one another every day and there is no doubt in my mind that if I was hurt on the battlefield one of you would help me out, and I need your help in this case, too."
This year the Army is using the theme "SHARP: Shaping a Culture of Trust."
"Prevention is key," said Mrs. Sandra Butler, 35th Signal Brigade Victim Advocate. "Preventing sexual violence is understanding the reality of it. Every 98 seconds someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. That means every single day more than 570 people experience sexual violence in this country. This has to stop and it starts with us!"
By taking part in SAAPM activities, the Lion Brigade demonstrates its commitment to cultivating a culture focused on trust, dignity and respect that reaffirms the Army's reputation as a mission-ready, values-based organization.