Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month opens at NSA Philadelphia

By John Dwyer III DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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A complement of presentations that showcased employees’ empowering stories of survival and vocal talents opened 2018’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

Naval Support Activity Philadelphia employees were reminded during two events in two days that sexual assault happens, it is devastating and their organizations are dedicated to a zero tolerance policy that supports education, prevention and response efforts.

April 3: Opening ceremony

To start the month, NSA Philadelphia tenants hosted a joint opening ceremony that culminated with a proclamation signing in the DLA Troop Support auditorium.

Philadelphia police officer Deborah Grooms shared her story about being sexually assaulted by a family friend and reminded the audience that sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Her experience and resiliency made an impact on attendees.

“It was very powerful and moving to hear the story of a survivor of sexual assault,” said Christina Panichelle, a management and program analyst with DLA Troop Support. ““It underscores the importance of helping the victims.”

Grooms’ story was followed by a rendition of Yolanda Adams’ “Still I Rise,” performed by Naval Supply Systems Command employee Dawn Morgan-Moore, and the signing of the 2018 Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month proclamation.

The proclamation, signed by all NSA Philadelphia tenant commands, rededicated efforts to eliminate sexual assault in the Department of Defense through awareness, education and empowerment.

The proclamation asks DOD personnel and families to “… increase their participation in our efforts to prevent sexual assault, thereby strengthening the Armed Forces community.“

April 4: “Speak Up, Stand Up” – stories of resiliency

During the “Speak Up, Stand Up” empowerment event, DLA Troop Support’s sexual assault response coordinator Ella Wynn aimed to help attendees understand why they should support SAPR efforts.

To open the event, Troop Support Commander Army Brig. Gen. Mark Simerly emphasized the reality of sexual assault in the DOD civilian community. He also reiterated his support of the zero tolerance SAPR campaign and keyed in on the event’s theme with a concise message for the crowd.

“Speak up. Stand up. And do the right thing,” Simerly said.

Those who did not attend the opening ceremony had the opportunity to hear Grooms’ presentation. She addressed the fear of speaking out and the many challenges that victims may face, but encouraged them to make the “right” choice.

“I say pick the role of telling … at least somebody hears you,” Grooms said. “I did. I am living free.”

A trio of Wynn, Morgan-Moore and Troop Support’s LaTosha Wray then took the floor to perform Andra Day’s “Stand Up For Something,” while the screen behind them flashed with words like “respect” and “dignity” in sync with the song lyrics.

Following the music, Troop Support’s Air Force Master Sgt. Naka Turner took the microphone to tell her story of resiliency. Turner encouraged those who become aware of a sexual assault to speak up, stand up and help be the voice for those who are too scared to speak up by themselves.

Her story touched many in the crowd.

“It makes me think about how I personally might be able to help someone who has been through that,” Panichelle said.

A month of activities

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month will be recognized throughout the month during the following events:

  • SAPR information table and SAPR support banners where employees can place their handprints and/or SAPR ribbon pieces provided at the table on support displays.

    • 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. on the following dates:

      • April 10 - Building 3

      • April 11 - Building 1

      • April 12 - Building 6

      • April 17 - Building 8

      • April 18 - Building 36

  • Women Organized Against Rape presentation. WOAR is a non-profit, Philadelphia-based organization that aims to eliminate all forms of sexual violence.

    • April 19 – Building 6 Auditorium from 9 - 11 a.m.

  • SAPR Awareness Walk from

    • April 24 – Baseball fields from 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.

  • Wear Teal and Denim Day

April 25 – all day (or as approved by your supervisor)