Camp Butler hosts Walk for Survivors of Sexual Assault

Base Info
Photo by Sexual Assault Response Committee of the Marine Corps
Photo by Sexual Assault Response Committee of the Marine Corps

Camp Butler hosts Walk for Survivors of Sexual Assault

by: Rushaunda A. Farmer | .
U.S. Marine Corps | .
published: August 10, 2016

Aug. 2 marked the kick-off of the Walk for Survivors hosted by the Marine Corps Base Butler Installation Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program at Kubasaki High School on Camp Foster. However, this was not the typical 5k or walk-a-thon often seen in support of various awareness events. In May, the Department of Defense released the Fiscal Year 2015 sexual assault statistics, and there were a total of 6,083 reports of sexual assault.
 
The goal of the Walk for Survivors was to walk a lap for every report — yes, that meant a total of 6,083 laps which equates to 1,520 miles. It was a lofty goal that would require the community to come together over the course of three days if the goal was to become a reality.

Aug. 2 and 3 were both half days for the event running from 7 a.m. until noon, while Aug. 4 was a full day event. At 7 a.m. on the first day of the event, Rushaunda A. Farmer, Marine Corps Base Butler Installation Sexual Assault Response Coordinator introduced Colonel William L. DePue, Camp Commander for Camp Foster to kick off the event with opening remarks. Command teams were then invited to complete the event’s opening lap.

With “Lean on Me” by Club Noveau blaring in the background, members of the Command from Headquarters and Support Battalion Marine Corps Base Butler, Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 4, 10th Regional Support Group, 247th Military Police Detachment, Headquarters and Headquarters Command-Torii Station, United States Naval Hospital Okinawa and 3rd Medical Battalion all ran the opening lap. This sent a powerful message of support to survivors and to the endeavor of eradicating sexual assault from the military community.

Upon the completion of the opening lap, members of the community were invited to take to the track. Over the course of three days, more than 600 community members walked and ran in support of survivors of sexual assault. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen all walked to demonstrate their unwavering support for those who have endured the trauma of sexual assault.
 
Many units came out together in order to send the message that they support survivors.  However, it wasn’t just military members who took part in the event. Stroller Warriors, Cub Scouts, AFN, Community Bank-Camp Foster and families came out to do their part as well.  In addition to helping to run the event, Installation Civilian Victim Advocates April Harn, Annie Scott, and Lucas Chagnon all walked in support of survivors of sexual assault.

Various stakeholders such as the III MEF and 1st MAW SARCs, CFAO SARC and Advocates, 10th Regional Support Group SARCs, Victims’ Legal Counsel, the Naval Criminal Investigation Section Adult Sexual Assault Squad and Uniformed Victim Advocates from the various branches of service also came out to walk in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault.

Amongst those participating in the event were a number of survivors who voiced their gratefulness for such an event where support for survivors and the trauma that they had endured was abundantly clear.

The event’s success was solidified at 8 a.m. Aug. 4 when the goal of 6,083 laps was achieved and an announcement was made.

Everyone was encouraged to continue walking as sexual assault is the most under-reported crime and there are a number of silent survivors who have not reported their victimization. Community members continued to walk unfazed by the pouring rain or sweltering heat because the focus was not on them, but rather on the survivors.  

When all was said and done, it was time to begin breaking down the event. A total of 9,208 laps — 2,302 miles had been walked, sending the message loud and clear that survivors do not stand alone.