GULF OF ADEN – Ten teams wrapped up the first week of competition as part of USS Boxer’s (LHD 4) Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) Commander’s Cup Fitness Challenge, April 10.
The team-based fitness challenge is a month-long series of physical-fitness events that Boxer’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) victim advocates planned throughout April to bring awareness of SAAPM to Sailors and Marines.
“The enthusiasm and level of participation in SAAPM events have been great so far,” said Chief Intelligence Specialist William Barnard, Boxer SAPR point of contact. “I like this year’s slogan ‘Know your part, do your part’, so what better way to infuse that concept than with team events? Each member has to know and do their part for the team to win.”
Cumulative totals for each team count as points for pushups, sit ups, squats, flight-deck ramp runs, and a flight deck 5K run.
“Events like Commander’s Cup raise the crew’s awareness of the SAPR program on board Boxer,” said Hospital Corpsman Hailey Johnson. “People become more knowledgeable about the ways to report and the people to report to through conversation, and it’s a fun way to boost morale.”
Boxer’s SAPR VAs have worked alongside the ship’s Diversity Committee and Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) to schedule other events throughout the month to include: teal bracelet creation for crewmembers, Denim Day Sunday brunch served by victim advocates wearing blue jeans, and formal training during CPO 365.
“All paygrades are affected by sexual assault so we need everyone to be involved in prevention,” said Barnard. “Many people assume that they will not be affected, but what about your friends and junior Sailors? They may need you to know your role in getting them help.”
SAPR advocates are leaders throughout a command chosen from a diverse pool of Sailors and Marines who serve in a support role, and are a direct point of contact for a possible victim.
“As a SAPR advocate my duty is to assist survivors of sexual assault and to help them successfully nagivate through a difficult time in their lives,” said Yeoman 1st Class Jonathan Alston. “Being a survivor of sexual assault can be overwhelming, especially when going through the reporting process, so it’s my duty to be that support system for my shipmate or Marine.”
Every event is different, but the common link is the participation of SAPR advocates in all events and consistent promotion of the program. “Our planned events are a success so far. An airman stopped me in the passageway and asked me how to become a SAPR victim advocate and how he could help with the SAPR program,” said Alston. “Observing the enthusiasm of the Boxer SAPR team and the shared passion we have for assisting survivors inspired me to become an advocate.” Intervention is the focal point of this year’s theme “Eliminate Sexual Assault: Know your part and do your part”. Sailors and Marines are encouraged to exercise the courage to step up and do the right thing when necessary.
The program operates year round at every command throughout the fleet, however, every April the U.S. Navy highlights the importance of SAPR awareness. The purpose of the SAPR program is to prevent and respond to sexual assault, eliminate it from the Navy ranks through education, comprehensive response, precise advocacy, and just adjudication to further promote a culture of professionalism, respect, and trust within the Navy. The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit team is conducting operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations during a scheduled deployment in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia–Pacific region.