Soldiers support SAPR walk
United States Forces - Iraq PAO
Written by Spc. Britney Bodner

BAGHDAD-The first Sexual Assault Prevention and Response walk took place on Camp Victory, Baghdad, Feb. 12.
As a part of a theater-wide Sexual Assault Awareness day, the walk educated participating Servicemembers and civilians about preventing sexual assault.

"We are American Soldiers, motivated to keep our fellow Soldiers safe, it is our mission to prevent sexual harassment and assault," said Brig. Gen. Peter Bayer, Deputy Chief of Staff of United States Forces-Iraq.

The walk is a part of the I. A.M. Strong campaign, a program to reinforce Soldiers duties to intervene when a battle buddy is being threatened, to act and stand up for their fellow Servicemembers, and to motivate Soldiers to do the right thing, explained Sgt. 1st Class Beatrice Watkins, a deployed sexual assault response coordinator and equal opportunity advisor.

The Army began the campaign in 2008 to prevent sexual assault and create an environment intolerant of this behavior.

Almost 500 Servicemembers and civilians attended the SAPR walk wearing shirts that identified their unit and showed their support for the walk.

"The walk was motivating; to get with the unit and to learn about preventing, as well as intervening, acting and motivating others to prevent Sexual Assault," said Pfc. Trent Weatherspoon, a public affairs specialist with the 35th Signal Brigade.

The walk lasted two hours with groups of Soldiers stopping at four locations to learn about sexual assault prevention and victim support, both deployed and back home.
"It had a great impact," said Weatherspoon, "Not only did it motivate, but it educated those that didn't have a keen awareness of what sexual assault really was."

Other locations that held a SAPR walk include Joint Base Balad, Airbase Sather, forward operating bases Kalsu and Prosperity and contingency operating bases Basrah and Adder.