This year’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) command program may have incorporated some lighthearted competition and fun, but the message was no less serious than it has been in previous years.
The U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon hosted a golf scramble April 23 at Gordon Lakes Golf Course in observance of SAAPM.
LynJondria Kitchen, Fort Gordon’s Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention program manager, said the event was in line with this year’s theme, “Building cohesive teams through character, trust and resilience.”
“It’s the insinuation of ‘we’re a team, and we’re going to win,’ and that’s how we want people to look at combatting sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military,” Kitchen said.
There were 192 people signed up to participate in the four-person team tournament, leaving Jeffery Watts, event organizer and 513th Military Intelligence Brigade sexual assault response coordinator (SARC), pleasantly surprised.
“I’m overwhelmed … it’s great,” Watts said of the turnout. “It’s all about bringing awareness to sexual assault and harassment prevention.”
As a means to increase awareness during the tournament, each tee along the golf course had a sign with information about sexual assault as it relates to the military.
“That way while they’re out there playing, they’re learning,” said Sgt. 1st Class Erin Hanna, installation lead SARC. “In the end, that’s the reason why they’re here. We lure them in with golf, and then they walk away more informed.”
Maj. Gen. Neil S. Hersey, Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon commanding general, was among the nearly 200 who participated in the scramble. Prior to teeing off, he asked the crowd of participants to think about a few things while on the golf course, adding that while winning the tournament would be nice, winning that battle against sexual assault and sexual harassment was the main reason for being there.
“Every person on the team contributes to the team winning or doing well, getting through the course together – and it’s the same with getting after the corrosive behaviors of sexual assault and sexual harassment,” Hersey said.
If you have experienced or witnessed unwanted sexual contact, get in touch with your brigade sexual assault response coordinator, victim advocate, healthcare provider, special victims counsel, behavioral health, military police, or a chaplain. You can also call the Fort Gordon Sexual Assault Prevention and Response/ Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Hotline 24/7 at 706-791-6297. The hotline is manned by a credentialed victim advocate.
“We want people to be comfortable coming forward, but we are also trying to make it where people are comfortable with trying to prevent it,” Kitchen said.