FORT BUCHANAN, PR- In the continuation of the command's annual campaign to aggressively raise awareness about sexual violence and educate on how to prevent sexual incidents, Soldiers assigned to U.S. Army Reserve Caribbean Geographical Command participated in several initiatives during the month of April, publically reaffirming their commitment to eliminate sexual assault from society.

"Sexual violence is a social problem that affects all members of society. This is a situation that is not exclusive of the Army and the Army Reserve. That is why we must do our part to prevent it," said Evelyn M. Franco, U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.

The observance started when Brig. Gen. Dustin A. Shultz, 1st Mission Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico, Commanding General, officially designated April as the command's Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, by signing a proclamation, April 2.

With that in mind, during the month, several units conducted their organic classes across the command.

On April 24, many Soldiers and civilians participated of Denim Day, by wearing jeans.

The Denim Day observance began in Italy after a 1998 Supreme Court decision overturned a rape conviction. The justices argued that, because the woman was wearing tight jeans, she must have assisted her attacker in removing them, thereby providing consent. The next day, women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans. The protests quickly spread, and in April 1999, a Los Angeles social service agency established the first U.S. Denim Day.

Another key event conducted in the U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico was Ms. Jane Carson-Sandler's presentation on April 25.

Carson-Sandler shared her personal experience as a victim of sexual violence and explained how she was able to overcome that horrific experience.

"I turned my mess into a message, my pain into purpose, and my purpose into power," said Carson-Sandler during her presentation, while encouraging troops and civilian personnel to face their own traumatic experiences in the same way.

Finally, Shultz, senior federal Army officer in the Caribbean, and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Breck, senior noncommissioned officer in the region, along with Army Reserve personnel, joined Brig. Gen. Jose Reyes, Puerto Rico National Guard Adjutant General, and other National Guard leaders, in a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) walk, April 26, hosted by the Puerto Rico National Guard.

"We represent an Army of character and values, in a culture of trust. We move at the speed of trust. That is why, if you see something wrong, I expect you to challenge it and say no, not on my Army. We are stronger together," said Shultz.

The U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico remains committed to an effective prevention program of sexual violence, not just on April, but all year around, as a way to sustain the readiness of its troops, in order to continue meeting the needs of the nation. (U.S. Army photos)