Airmen and Soldiers from the Maryland National Guard along with family members laced up their running shoes to participate in a 5K walk/run to kick off the start of the military’s observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month, April 1, 2017 at Warfield Air National Guard Base, Middle River, MD.
The “SAAPM SHARP 5K” was hosted by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Linda L. Singh, 29th adjutant general of Maryland, who along with Guard members were looking to change the culture of sexual assault and harassment where they live and work.
“This is not just for us to be out here and just socialize,” said Singh. “This is us standing up and saying we are putting our foot down to stop sexual assault and sexual harassment happening within our community.”
The mission of the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program is to reduce with an aim toward eliminating sexual offenses within the Army.
“We lose more of our Airmen and our Soldiers in the National Guard to sexual violence and sexual harassment and there is no reason for that to happen,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Randolph Staudenraus, 175th Wing commander, Maryland Air National Guard. “The next thing we need to do is change our culture to get sexual violence out of our workplace and out of our lives.”
This year’s race is the 3rd annual SAAPM SHARP 5K and has grown steadily since its inception. Over 225 Soldiers and Airmen registered to participate in this year’s event.
“It was a great race mainly because of the crowd, a lot of people here just to support each other throughout our communities which is awesome,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Reid Novotny, cyber officer assigned to the 175th Cyberspace Operations Group, Maryland Air National Guard. “Sometimes running can be kind of lonely but it’s great to have a community behind you especially in a race like this.”
Singh signed two proclamations at the beginning of the event. The first reiterated the Maryland National Guard’s support of victims of sexual assault and harassment as well as the continued support of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
Singh then thanked the children of military members before signing the second proclamation that reaffirmed the Maryland National Guard’s unwavering support to them and all that they do for Soldiers and Airmen.
The month of April is also the military’s observance of military children and was established to underscore the important role children play in the Armed Forces community. There are approximately 2 million military children, ranging in ages from newborn to 18 years old.