FORT BELVOIR, Va. –
Defense Logistics Agency employees collectively ran, walked and biked 35,000 miles, or nearly one and half times around the world, to promote National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. In the process, they shattered the goal set by the DLA Sexual Assault and Prevention Response staff.
The pandemic caused many events to be held virtually again this year and SAPR Program Manager Bethrece Cheek praised DLA sexual assault coordinators for creative initiatives like the enterprisewide Teal Ribbon Relay that ran April 1-30.
The virtual relay race was a spin on traditional Teal Tuesdays, when employees wear teal clothing or accessories to show support for sexual assault survivors. Employees across the enterprise competed toward a goal of 1,026 miles, and the chance to earn a plaque for their organization. The 1,026 miles is the approximate distance between DLA Headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and its major subordinate locations: Battle Creek, Michigan; New Cumberland, Pennsylvania; Richmond, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; and Philadelphia.
More than 450 employees including Cheek, DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Michelle Skubic and DLA Senior Enlisted Leader Army Command Sgt. Maj. Tomeka O’Neal participated in the event, which was advertised via all-hands emails from DLA Human Resources. SARCs tallied participants’ miles and reported them to Cheek at the end of each week.
DLA Headquarters participants took 1st place with 8,314 miles. Individual winners were DLA Land and Maritime’s Jacob Gabbert with 520 miles and DLA Troop Support’s Navy Lt. Cdr. Jason Pfaff with 462 miles.
During a May 18 SAPR meeting DLA Vice Director Brad Bunn accepted the award on behalf of the agency headquarters winners.
“It’s a great accomplishment, especially given the relative population of our [headquarters directorates],” Bunn said. “It says a lot about the commitment that our leaders have to marking the occasion of SAAPM and, more importantly, demonstrating their support for prevention of sexual assault in our workplace.”
DLA Disposition SARC Robin Rogers coordinated the relay and said its virtual nature allowed participants to accrue miles on their own timeline and in their local areas. She interacted with participants in Djibouti and Afghanistan as well as those in the U.S.
“Being able to [raise awareness] and create a team of support wherever people are working is important,” she said. “It takes everyone to assist and to promote the program.”
Cheek said the virtual relay provided an opportunity for participants to bond while learning about SAPR and maintaining fitness.
“Some of the major subordinate commands established individual teams so they could do their fitness workouts together. They were very creative and innovative in accomplishing their goals,” she said.
The SAPR program manager added that she appreciates continued campaign support from Skubic, Bunn and O’Neal, all of whom continuously remain engaged with the program.
“This job is hard, but knowing that there’s support makes it easy,” she said. “I know if there’s something I need [from leaders], I’m going to get it.”
Billie Keeler, acting director of DLA Human Resources said he’s proud of the DLA SAPR team members across the enterprise for their creativity in engaging the workforce throughout Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
“‘Awareness’ is one of the key components of SAAPM, and events like this help shine a spotlight on our SAPR program,” he said. “Events like this that make our DLA team members focus on SAPR help people better understand what constitutes inappropriate behavior and where to turn if they need support or advice following a sexual assault.”
Cheek said she believes the SAPR program will continue to evolve, and sexual assault awareness shouldn’t be relegated to one month.
“There’s no timeline on when sexual assaults occur, so it’s important that every day of the year we’re dedicated to bringing awareness,” she said, adding that preventing sexual violence is critical. “We can’t do any of this by ourselves; it takes an army to make all of this come together.”
DLA employees who experience sexual violence can contact trained SAPR coordinators at any time via the SAPR Hotline at 1-800-841-0937.