H&S BN Walks for Survivors
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- Service members and Status of Forces Agreement personnel participated in the Walk for Survivors Walk-A-Thon Aug. 2 aboard Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan.
The three-day walk-a-thon is meant to raise awareness of sexual assault prevention and readiness.
According to Col. William L. DePue, the event was a showcase of solidarity and support for the survivors of sexual assault across the Department of Defense.
“Today we are here to let survivors know that they do not walk alone,” said DePue, the camp commander for camp foster and th commanding officer Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific-Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Japan. “We stand with them and we walk beside them. Sexual assault affects us all and this is a fight we’re fighting together.”
Members of the MCIPAC community pledged a combined total of 6,083 laps, roughly 1,500 miles, around the Zukeran Elementary School track. The number of laps represented the 6,083 sexual assaults reported across the DoD in the 2015 fiscal year.
“Sexual assault is a very real problem in the military,” said Rushaunda A. Farmer, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator with H&S Bn. “It has a deep effect on all of us. It’s a very real issue that we need to continue to talk about if we’re ever going to eradicate it from our community.”
According to Farmer, the walk-a-thon is the first of its kind in the Marine Corps and hopes to repeat the event annually to spread of spreading the word and hope to the sexual assault victims.
“It is important to let survivors know that we are here for them,” said Farmer. “When they see that their leaders and fellow service members are willing to come out in the blazing Okinawa heat just to show that they are here for them, they’ll be more willing to come forward with full faith that they’ll have the support of everyone around them.”