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Marine Corps, Army team up to host sexual assault awareness, prevention symposium

20 Apr 2015 | Eve A. Baker Marine Corps Base Quantico

The Marine Corps Base Quantico Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office partnered with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program to host a two-day symposium on sexual assault. The event took place on April 6-7 at the Clubs at Quantico, and was attended by commanding officers and senior enlisted leaders, Sexual Assault Response Coordinators, victim advocates and first responders.

The symposium agenda covered such topics as bystander intervention, forensic evidence collection, ethics, drug and alcohol use, suicide, advocacy support from a survivor’s perspective, legal counsel for victims, and trauma and memory.

Base Commander Col. David Maxwell made opening remarks on the second day of the symposium and said that sexual assault was a major challenge all the services and society in general have to face. Maxwell told the attendees that more needs to be done to change people’s mindsets to prevent assault, and that the focus should be proactive rather than reactive.

C.A. Hester, the primary coordinator of the symposium from Quantico and the installation SARC, said the event was meant to further the dialog about sexual assault and make unit representatives and service providers aware of changing guidance on how to assist victims and of new resources.

Hester said that, among other goals, she wanted to provide attendees with information on how to meet the special needs of service members who have been assaulted and who want to keep serving.

Symposium attendees heard from 13 individual speakers, as well as a panel of sexual assault survivors and representatives from support networks.

Lt. Cmdr. Linda Huber, director of Health Services at Naval Health Clinic Quantico, spoke about forensic evidence collection. Providers at the clinic are trained in conducting Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence exams, and any samples collected are processed by a military laboratory.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month nationwide, and the symposium is just one of the outreach efforts the SAPR office is making. The office has placed displays with brochures and other takeaway material in various buildings throughout the base and staffed the displays with uniformed victim advocates.

Gunnery Sgt. Steven Walters, the UVA for Marine Corps Recruiting Command and MCRC data chief, manned the table in Lejeune Hall on April 8 for several hours.

Walters said he spoke with several people coming and going in the hallway, and he let them know about the resources available to victims of assault and people wanting to help them.

To become certified UVAs, individuals have to take a weeklong training course, and Walters said that since doing so, he has provided assistance to victims in several assault cases.

— Writer: ebaker@quanticosentryonline.com