MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- The installation kicked off the month participating in the region-wide ribbon tying ceremony at 10 a.m. April 3, and a lit lantern walk ceremony at the Glen Eagle Golf Course on the evening of April 5.
During the ribbon tying ceremony, Capt. Michael Wathen, commanding officer NSA Mid-South, and Command Master Chief Marilyn Kennard joined members of the base Fleet and Family Support Center at the Sail. The Sexual Assault Response Program including unit victim advocates from tenant commands tied ribbons across the installation.
"This was the 1st Annual Southeast Region Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) ribbon tying event," said Cindy Stavrides, NSA Mid-South Fleet and Family Support Center's (FFSC) Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. "As the opening event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, all SAPR programs across the region tied ribbons on the same day at the same time to signify our unified efforts in eradicating sexual assault in our Navy.
These ceremonies, carried out simultaneously by all installations and commands under the umbrella of CNRSE, marked the first time that the commands have acted in unison to make a statement raising awareness about sexual assault and encouraging participants to step up and step in.
"Installations across our region are going to be very busy throughout the rest of the month with SAAPM events they have been planning for some time," said Tina Vaughn, the CNRSE regional SARC. "Some events are new and others are signature. All of the work is aimed at greater awareness of the program and the services available, a better understanding of how victims and survivors are impacted, how we can best serve and support them, as well as how we can be a part of prevention going forward."
At the Glen Eagle Golf Course, military families were given personally crafted lanterns donated by the FFSC staff to walk the path by not only the installation leadership but also with special guests from the Shelby County Police Department's bagpipe and rum band who lead the way for the walk.
"One case of sexual assault among shipmates is too many," said Wathen. "Together, we can work to further reduce, with the goal to eliminate, sexual assault from the armed forces."
While this year's SAAPM theme is "Protecting our people protects our mission," this year's call to action is "Raise your voice for prevention." Historically, SAAPM has been geared toward increasing awareness regarding the impact and scope of sexual assault in the Navy. However, this year's focus has shifted to prevention. While increasing awareness is still an important concern, the Navy is now focusing on how to stop sexual assault before it occurs.
"Prevention, as a focus, is receiving a lot of good attention lately." Vaughn said. "Though we are still in the trenches figuring out what a programmatic prevention element might look like, we know what we want in terms of signature behaviors, those behaviors that embody Navy's core values and sustain a culture of excellence."
The Navy SAPR program's mission is to prevent and respond to sexual assault, eliminating it from its ranks through a balance of focused education, comprehensive response, compassionate advocacy and just adjudication in order to promote professionalism, respect and trust, while preserving Navy mission readiness.
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For more news from Naval Support Activity, Mid-South, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsams/.