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NEWS | April 20, 2023

SAPR honors SAAPM to raise awareness and prevention

By Daniel Barney Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response team on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst observes this month by raising awareness to prevent sexual assault and harassment and to provide resources and victim support to educate the public. These efforts contribute to a safe and secure joint base community.

“SAAPM is a monthly reminder to promote the prevention of sexual violence to our community, especially towards our military forces,” said Jennifer West, SAPR installation sexual assault response coordinator. “My team and I at SAPR want to do two things right: ensuring people have an awareness on how to prevent sexual violence in the future, and how people, especially victims of abuse, can request for our services.”

According to the SAPR website, SAPR’s 2022-2023 theme is “STEP FORWARD. Prevent. Report. Advocate,” a call to action for individuals representing the organization to promote positive change in preventing sexual violence, nationwide, to the public.

The SAPR team held numerous events and activities to engage with the community while continuing the push to eliminate sexual assault.

“Throughout the month of April, SAPR is hosting events around the base, such as: the SAAPM proclamation signing, 3v3 basketball tournaments, sounds of healing, bowling tournaments, and clothesline of healing,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Leah Garrison, SAPR deputy sexual assault response coordinator. “I believe that these events will help to boost morale, awareness, and community engagement around JB MDL.”

Out of all the festivities being held on base, Garrison and her team at Joint Base MDL SAPR focused solely on executing two certain events. The first event was the SAAPM proclamation signing, which took place at the Halvorsen Hall dining facility.

“The SAAPM proclamation signing is an event that JB MDL leadership and members of the Total Force come together, showing that team JB MDL will continue to eradicate sexual assault around the community, and provide protection and support to the survivors who were victims of this matter,” said Garrison. “It is an all-hands community effort to stay aware and vigilant around one’s surroundings, and practice prevention in protecting the community from becoming potential victims of sexual abuse, no matter what branch of service, rank, and organization an individual represents.”

The Joint Base MDL SAPR team held another event called the Clothesline of Healing, inspired by the Clothesline Project, which also took place at the Halvorsen Hall dining facility.

Originated in 1990, the Clothesline Project is a non-governmental organization in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, created to raise awareness about the profound impact of interpersonal violence against men, women, and children. The significance behind the Clothesline Project is to show a clothesline display of t-shirts in different colors with graphic messages and illustrations created by victims and survivors of interpersonal violence, to increase awareness, embrace strength and resiliency, and speak up against violence.

With the Clothesline of Healing, Joint Base MDL SAPR borrowed the same concept but opened the event to all individuals around the joint base, whether affected or unaffected, to decorate bandanas instead of t-shirts to show support for survivors and honor victims of interpersonal violence.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ronilaine Higote, 87th Comptroller Squadron financial operations technician, was one of the participants that attended the Clothesline of Healing.

“This event was truly important for me because I want to do whatever I can to support the victims and survivors who experienced sexual violence and help to combat against this issue. There are many people out there who are silent about this matter and may be too shy or afraid to speak up, which bothers me,” said Higote. “This event helps me to develop a better sense of my surroundings and further support and appreciate people here on JB MDL. I fully understand that everyone, including I, play such a huge role in the future of the JB MDL community.”

The Joint Base MDL SAPR team continues to encourage the community to stay vigilant, and practice awareness and prevention, as they may save the lives of others, including oneself.

As Garrison concluded, “People should not be relegated to show care and compassion of others during this time of the month, but every day in our society. SAPR will always be open to the joint base community because everyone matters to us.”