COLUMBUS, Ohio –
Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime needs a good final push as it sits near the middle of the pack in the DLA Teal Ribbon Relay challenge for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
As of April 25, Land and Maritime has clocked about 540 miles in the second annual virtual event which places its baton near Bedford, Pennsylvania, and more than halfway between DLA Land and Maritime and DLA Distribution on the relay map.
The 2nd annual relay aimed to expand its reach outside of the 1,026 miles that connects the Major Subordinate Commands with a focus on connecting all of DLA employees worldwide to resources as well as educate the workforce on prevention and bystander intervention. That goal fueled DLA’s objective to clock 16,203 miles by month’s end.
Enterprise-wide DLA employees have accumulated about 16,289 miles, which more than the overall goal with about one week to go in the challenge.
The event was born out of the need to come together as a community united around bringing awareness to sexual violence virtually due to an ongoing maximum telework posture throughout the Agency.
“The SAPR program’s mission is a year-round one but April provides a unique platform to highlight survivor support and available resources,” said Shari Murnahan, DLA Land and Maritime Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. “Conversations and information regarding male victimization, consent, healthy boundaries, and prevention have been facilitated by SARCs across the enterprise via both virtual and in-person events."
Employees may participate by reporting their miles or steps accumulated each week to Murnahan to “move the baton” across the relay map.
"While resources, support, training, advocacy and education have remained available during this time of max telework, we’re looking forward to transitioning back to more on site and in-person interactions and training,” she added.
Touring cyclist Timothy Boris, a tech/quality business process analyst at DLA Land and Maritime is Land and Maritime’s top performer so far, logging 373 miles of road cycling since the beginning of the month. He hopes to add a whole lot more while at a cycling event in North Carolina this week.
“I’m hoping to top 500 miles this month, but the weather may have other ideas. We should accumulate a good number of miles in North Carolina this week, so that should help add to the total,” Boris said.
Boris added that he is using the Teal Ribbon Relay as added motivation in his regular training and cycling activities.
“I saw the announcement and decided to send in my miles to contribute to the Teal Ribbon Relay. I just started road cycling last summer, so this is the first year I participated in the event,” he said.
Eugene Williams, Director of the Land and Maritime Engineering and Technical Support Directorate is an example of the commitment Land and Maritime leadership has to supporting the program and victims of assault by weaving the challenge into his daily activities.
Williams likes to stay active and enjoys walking, cycling and the elliptical machine at the Defense Supply Center Columbus Fitness Center.
“Seventy-five to 80 percent [of the miles clocked] is walking,” he said. “I love walking. Even in cold weather I love to walk. I put on my music and I walk the trails in my neighborhood. I love the Blues so I put the Blues on and I just go. I block out everything and I just go.”
He said he bikes with a group every Saturday and that he thinks he’s the oldest one there so he prides himself on not being the last one of the pack.
“I don’t plan on being the first one either because those guys can ride but I’m definitely not the last one of the pack so that’s my personal goal. And walking helps build up endurance for riding,” Williams added.
One of the things that drives Williams the most is following the teaching of the Bible to love one another.
“I think now and in the past year with everything that’s been going on, I just think it’s so important that we support people. People are going through so many things [that we don’t know about] so I think we need to do whatever we can do to reach out and support them,” he said.
Employees are encouraged to continue sending in reports and pictures of their activities each week until the challenge ends on April 30.
For survivors of sexual violence and for those going through crisis, there are many resources to turn to.
The DOD Safe Helpline is a hotline for victims of sexual assault within the Department of Defense. Operated by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network the helpline is staffed 24 hours a day and 365 days a year and offers one on one support from recent victims and those in crisis to those whose assaults happened many years ago. The Safe Helpline website has comprehensive resources about the effects of sexual assault, how to get help, resources for male victims, reporting options, the impact of trauma on the brain and more.
RAINN is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. In its 27-year history, RAINN has helped more than 3.7 million assault survivors and their families. RAINN operates another national response hotline and carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Other events designed to bring awareness were the joint DSCC MWR/Land and Maritime Sip (Tea) ‘n Paint event on April 12 bringing awareness to both Sexual Assault and Child Abuse, the ongoing Teal Tuesdays where associates are encouraged to take pictures of themselves wearing teal, and Denim Day set for April 27 where associates are encouraged to take photos of themselves wearing denim in honor of victims of sexual violence.
According to the Denim Day website, National Denim Day began after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped the person who raped her remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Since then, people from around the world observe Denim Day by making a social statement with their fashion by wearing jeans as a visible means of bringing awareness to the misconceptions that surround sexual violence.
Murnahan added “The overall goal of SAAPM is to prevent sexual violence and support survivors. The DoDs new theme “STEP FORWARD. Prevent. Report. Advocate” reminds us that we all have a role in creating an environment rooted in dignity and respect, reporting inappropriate things when we see them and educating ourselves on how to support someone if an incident does occur. These things, along with participating in the TRR are ways anyone can contribute to a community that is free from assault.”
DLA’s goal is a culture free of sexual assault through an environment of prevention; education and training; response capability; victim support; reporting procedures; and appropriate accountability that enhances the safety and wellbeing of all DLA employees. For more information on the DLA SAPR program, visit https://www.dla.mil/Info/SAPR.aspx