More than 80 Fort Knox Soldiers, family members, civilians, members of the public and four motorcycle associations participated in the 5th annual Raise the Bars Motorcycle Ride from Fort Knox to Elizabethtown, April 29.

Organized by U.S. Army Human Resources Command, the ride was HRC's pinnacle event in observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. The intent of each ride is to raise awareness about sexual assault and prevention and to publicly reaffirm the command's commitment to eliminate sexual assault in the Army's formations.

National statistics show one in four women and one in seven men will be a victim of sexual violence at some point in their life.

"We're out here today as a collective community front showing support for ridding our Army of a pervasive disease called sexual assault and sexual harassment," Brig. Gen. Twanda (Tia) Young, HRC deputy commanding general told the crowd before the start of the event.

"Although the Army has made some strides, we still have [survivors] in our ranks who fear if they come forward [for help,] nothing would be done," Young said. "We must change that. If you see something, say something; do something. Do not allow any of our family to be harmed on our watch."
Young challenged the riders to initiate talk and conversations about how to address this issue.

The parade of motorcycles departed Fort Knox at 1:30 p.m., arriving an hour later at Silverleaf Sexual Trauma Recovery Services in Elizabethtown.

Silverleaf is one of a number of local nonprofit agencies to which HRC refers survivors of sexual assault and abuse for support and services. Silverleaf's services include crisis intervention, medical examinations, counseling and education. The agency has been instrumental in working with HRC and other commands on post to provide trauma response and advocacy support.

Upon the riders' arrival, Jillian Carden, executive director at Silverleaf, told the crowd of riders, "Your voice has the power to bring awareness, accountability and healing to others. You have the ability, regardless of your status, title, job, paycheck or skillset, to impact the life of a survivor. You know someone who is a survivor of sexual violence -- even if they haven't told you.

"The most powerful thing you can ever say to someone who chooses to tell you their story is, 'I believe you.'"

Carden added: "A survivor's voice has power to bring awareness, accountability and healing both for that individual and other survivors whenever they decide to talk about their experience, and to whom."

Major Jessica Beard, commander of HRC Headquarters Company, said she participated in the ride to show her support for survivors.

"It's important because sexual harassment and sexual assault has or can affect any one of us," Beard said. "No one is exempt from it; it does not discriminate. It could be your father, mother, brother, sister, child, neighbor or coworker."

Two new events have been added to this year's month-long observance agenda. The first, "Walk a Mile in my Shoes," was held April 24. The second, "Darkness to Light-candle lighting ceremony," is planned for April 30.

Officials said the intent of all the events is to deepen an understanding of the traumatic effects of sexual assault and serve as a reminder to remain vigilant against acts of sexual assault throughout the year, long after the month-long campaign comes to a close.