News | Oct. 1, 2020

DLA employees walk a mile to promote sexual assault prevention, response

By Dianne Ryder DLA Public Affairs

The Defense Logistics Agency’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response team continued their “Not just April” theme by encouraging employees to walk a mile in September to show support for survivors of sexual assault.

Before the coronavirus brought stay-at-home orders and mass telework, the DLA SAPR team had planned events and activities to support April’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. The team decided to instead stagger SAAPM activities through summer, fall and winter to highlight the importance of yearlong SAPR awareness.

This month, agency employees were encouraged to show their support for sexual assault victims by snapping photos of themselves walking one mile and submitting them to SAPR staff. Anne Burleigh, a procurement analyst in DLA Acquisition, took part in the challenge.

“I’m grateful that DLA has this program and the training so people know about the resources available to them,” she said. “I’m mindful that so many people have suffered from sexual harassment and assault and how important it is to let them know people are aware and care about them.”
 
Supporting survivors is also important to Ahmad Burse, acting director of DLA Energy’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office.

“I have yet to meet anyone who has not been directly or indirectly impacted by sexual harassment or assault,” Burse said. “The message of sexual harassment and assault prevention, response and bystander intervention may not be for you directly; it may be for you to deliver the message to a loved one such as child, family friend or spouse.”

The challenge helped Burse meet his personal fitness goals while supporting SAPR, he said.

“I try to walk about 12,000 steps a day. Walking this distance helps me maintain my weight, relieve stress and fight off depression,” he added.

Having a SAPR event every other month keeps awareness on people’s minds, said DLA Headquarters’ Sexual Assault and Response Coordinator Helen Myres, a veteran who worked as a SARC and victim advocate at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She was encouraged by agency employees’ response to the challenge.

“I saw two gentlemen outside in their suits wearing teal ribbons, and a woman was walking for a friend who’s a survivor. She was glad we’re getting the program out there and raising awareness more than just one month a year,” Myres said.

In November, the SAPR team will designate every Friday as Denim Day. Civilians are encouraged to wear denim to support the international movement which began when a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that, since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped remove the jeans, implying consent. Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against destructive attitudes about sexual assault.

Employees can view more participant photos on the DLA Facebook page.

For more information about DLA’s SAPR program, contact the DLA SAPR program manager, Bethrece Cheek at 571-767-0467 or bethrece.cheek@dla.mil. Employees can also contact their local SARC or reach out to the DLA SAPR hotline at 1-800-841-0937 for resources or to make a report.