Arleigh Burke Crew Promotes SAPR Victim Awareness

Story Number: NNS170427-16Release Date: 4/27/2017 1:18:00 PM
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By Ensign Nicolas Mahone, USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) hosted their second annual walk in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month April 7 at Naval Station Norfolk.

The crew participated in a command-wide walk, continuing the tradition of taking a stance against sexual assault and supporting its victims.

"We must lead from the front and by example in everything we do," said Cmdr. Jason Stepp, commanding officer USS Arleigh Burke. "We are determined to treat each other as shipmates and family because in war and underway, there is no one to turn to except each other. Trust is what makes that happen."

The Arleigh Burke crew also gathered for an aerial photo shoot, in which the crew formed up on the flight deck to outline the shape of a giant sexual assault prevention and response (SAPR) ribbon and displayed teal victim advocacy posters. The posters were created by various divisions within the ship.

During the walk, Sailors and supporting family members donned teal ribbons and carried SAPR posters. Service members and families walked from Naval Station Norfolk's Pier 10 to Vista Point to help raise awareness about the Navy's efforts to combat the crime of sexual assault and sexual abuse.

"I believe this walk shows our unified strength across the waterfront in how we support the fight against sexual assault," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Gary Freeman, an Arleigh Burke SAPR Victim Advocate. "In our actions, we represent an extension of the fight to end these assaults, and I'm proud to be part of this walk and tree planting."

Along with the walk and aerial photo, to further raise awareness, SAPR victim advocates planted a tree on the pathway by Vista Point.

"Planting a tree of honor is a beautiful and unique way to express our stance on this matter," said Freeman. "As a SAPR Victim Advocate, I believe it is our profound duty to do what it takes to provide our Sailors with a safe and comfortable environment."

"SAPR advocates want to thank our chain of command for once again showing full support in our walk and tree planting idea," said Chief Machinist's Mate Geoffrey Wellons. "I believe that we all have a role in preventing sexual assault and spreading awareness. This walk and tree helps extend that message."

The ship is named after the late Adm. Arleigh A. Burke, and serves as the flagship of the Navy's Arleigh Burke-class of guided-missile destroyers.

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