Riders lined up their motorcycles at the Army Human Resources Command complex at Fort Knox just before departing for the ride to Silverleaf Sexual Trauma Recovery Services in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
Riders lined up their motorcycles at the Army Human Resources Command complex at Fort Knox just before departing for the ride to Silverleaf Sexual Trauma Recovery Services in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Charles Leffler, Fort Knox Visual Information) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT KNOX, Ky. – Dozens of motorcycle riders participated in the 7th Annual Raise the Bars Motorcycle Ride from Fort Knox to Elizabethtown April 27. Participants included Fort Knox Soldiers, family members, civilians, members of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, the American Legion, the Buffalo Soldiers, and other local and out of state motorcycle groups.

Organized by U.S. Army Human Resources Command, the ride is the most high-profile event HRC conducts during April in observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. All events are intended to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault and prevention measures, and to publicly reaffirm the command’s commitment to eliminating sexual assault in the Army’s formations and providing treatment and support for survivors.

Addressing the riders before the start of the event, Maj. Gen. Thomas Drew, HRC commanding general, said this event brings attention to sexual violence and reminds everyone they have a duty to treat all people with dignity and respect.

“Treating people with dignity and respect also eliminates all the conditions that create the situations where we have sexual harassment and sexual assault,” Drew said. “This is a problem that the military, the Army, is trying to [rectify]. We have room to do better, because if we have one case, that’s one too many, and it starts with all of us every day thinking about how we defeat sexual assault and sexual harassment.”

According to RAND Research published in 2021 "Countering Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Military,” it’s estimated that one in four women and one in 16 men in the military will be a victim of sexual violence at some point during their service.

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

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

Silverleaf is one of the local agencies where HRC refers survivors of sexual assault and abuse for support and services that include crisis intervention, medical examinations, counseling and education. The agency has been instrumental in working with HRC and other commands on post in providing trauma response services and advocacy support.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Drew, Army Human Resources Command, Commanding General (Left) addressed the crowd about the importance of sexual assault/harassment awareness and prevention before the start of the ride.
Maj. Gen. Thomas Drew, Army Human Resources Command, Commanding General (Left) addressed the crowd about the importance of sexual assault/harassment awareness and prevention before the start of the ride. (Photo Credit: Charles Leffler, Fort Knox Visual Information) VIEW ORIGINAL

Toby Northen said he was riding to help raise awareness to support survivors.

“It’s an important piece, because hopefully, it will give those who’ve been sexually assaulted, men and women, the courage to speak up [and get treatment].”

The ride was the cornerstone event held by HRC in observance of SAAPM. Earlier in the month, Drew signed a proclamation pledging to continue the work of eliminating sexual assault and support for survivors.

“Strike out Sexual Assault,” a new event held at the Fort Knox bowling alley April 15, was added to the command’s observance this year in an effort to reach more men, who historically, are less likely to come forward and report sexual assaults committed against them.

Charles Lay, HRC SHARP Program Manager said the command is working to include more venues where males are likely to engage, such as bowling.

“With the increased emphasis that the Department of Defense, the Army and HRC are placing on outreach for male victims and improving support services for male survivors, we hope that including venues like this will increase the number of males coming forward to report sexual violence so they can get the help they need instead of having to suffer in silence.

HRC’s events end April 29 with the “Darkness to Light-candle lighting ceremony,” held to deepen the understanding of the traumatic effects of sexual assault and serve as a reminder to remain vigilant against acts of sexual assault throughout the year, even after the month-long observance of SAAPM comes to a close.