USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea - More than 200 Sailors and Marines participated in a special Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) 5-kilometer run on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), April 28.
The month of April was designated as SAAM, and commands throughout the Navy have been providing general military training and hosting special events to raise awareness on this important topic.
The 5K run was organized by Makin Island's Sexual Assault Prevention Response (SAPR) team as an opportunity for Sailors and Marines to take time out of their operational schedule to observe the importance of sexual assault prevention.
"The importance of this run is to remember the victims who have been sexually assaulted and for us to be the voice of those victims," said Yeoman 1st Class Kristina Godinez, a SAPR volunteer who helped organize the run. "It means a lot to me and the SAPR team that so many people took time out of their day to remember the victims."
Godinez said sexual assault is an issue that devastates victims, dissolves unit cohesiveness, threatens teamwork and weakens fleet readiness. Making Sailors and Marines aware of the problem is a fundamental part in the Navy's prevention and response program.
Sailors who took part in the 5K run said they enjoyed the workout as well as the opportunity to bring attention to SAAM.
"It's important for the Navy to take time out of its operational schedule, because its good to exercise, for one, and we want to make sure everybody understands that this is something we take seriously, and it's always time to prevent it," said Chief Quartermaster Larry J. Watkins, a Makin Island Sailor who took part in the 5K run.
In addition to the 5K run, Makin Island Sailors and Marines received prevention-based training during the month of April, and posters were placed throughout the ship highlighting this year's theme of "Hurts One. Affect All. Preventing Sexual Assault is Everyone's Duty."
A "Clothesline Project" display featuring different colored t-shirts representing the many types of sexual violence, was also constructed by the ship's SAPR team near the mess decks.
Sexual assault prevention is an important element of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy.
The Department of the Navy is working aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, to support sexual assault victims, and to hold offenders accountable.
Makin Island is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's life cycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.
Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.