YORKTOWN, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Weapons Station (WPNSTA) Yorktown takes sexual assault very seriously and wants to ensure every Sailor and civilian at the installation knows that this type of behavior will not be tolerated and support is there for the victims of sexual assault. This is something that is practiced each and every day aboard the installation, but becomes "laser focused" during the month of April.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. The theme set forth by the Department of Defense (DoD) for 2015 is "Eliminate Sexual Assault: Know your part. Do your part". According to the DoD, the effort will focus on raising awareness and highlight prevention of sexual violence with an emphasis on bystander intervention.
"A lot has changed over the past few years," said Shannon Minor, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) victim advocate aboard WPNSTA Yorktown. "The Victims Legal Council (VLC) program came onboard, providing individuals with their own personal JAG who specializes in sexual assault and victims no longer have to testify in Article 32 hearings. Their sworn statements, taken by NCIS, can be used instead. It (the SAPR Program) is still growing and developing in a good way."
During the month of April, commands are encouraged to organize events to highlight the awareness and prevention of sexual assault. WPNSTA Yorktown is hosting/participating in numerous events, both on base and in the local community. The installation is hosting a 5K run at Cheatham Annex on April 10th and a track and field day at Huntington Hall in Newport News on April 24, which will bring Sailors and civilians together for fun activities while learning more about the SAPR program.
Additionally, Sailors and civilians will be participating in the annual "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" at the Peninsula Town Center in Hampton, where men walk one mile in women's high heeled shoes in support of The Center for Sexual Assault Survivors.
"We have great activities and awareness events to really get more people engaged in the program," Minor explained. "The theme let's all the Sailors 'know their part' against sexual assault and 'do their part' to engage in bystander intervention."
According to Minor, there will also be special desserts served at the galley in April, draped with teal ribbons, the color representing Sexual Assault Awareness Month, as well as "Teal Tuesday" on April 7, that will encourage civilian employees to wear teal in support of the SAPR program. One of the most visual representations on display during the month of April is the Clothesline Project.
"The survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault design a shirt with different messages regarding the abuse they experienced and empowerment," Minor added. "We also have shirts for advocates, for someone to take a stand against violence." The shirts will be displayed at FFSC Yorktown and Newport News, the Branch Health Clinic at Yorktown and Huntington Hall.
According to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), SAPR is an important effort to the 21st Century Sailor, to maximize personal and family readiness, build resilience, and enhancing the asymmetric advantage Sailors bring to the force. WPNSTA Yorktown is no exception, maintaining and supplying our warfighters with the ordnance to defend our nation.
"This is one of our biggest responsibilities as Sailors and leaders," said Capt. Paul Haebler, WPNSTA Yorktown commanding officer. "Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month is a great opportunity for our command to show their support for eliminating sexual assault. We have to take what we do this month and carry it over year-round to ensure that no one associated with WPNSTA Yorktown is a victim of sexual violence."
For more news from Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, visit www.navy.mil/local/nwsyorktown/.