Soldiers and Airmen walk to end sexual assault

Sgt. Keith VanKlompenberg
139th MPAD, 13th SC(E)

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Soldiers and Airmen at Joint Base Balad showed their support for victims of sexual assault and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program in the “Intervene! Act! Motivate!” Walk here Friday night.

The 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing held the event to give service members looking for evening exercise a battle buddy or wingman to walk with, as well as show their support for this important cause.

“We conducted this late in the evening to inform our Soldiers that most sexual assaults occur in the evening or early morning hours and to be vigilant and have a battle buddy,” said Master Sgt. Rita A. Cossio, Deployed Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and Equal Opportunity Advisor for the 13th SC(E).

With flashlights in hand, and donning reflective belts, roughly 125 participants took to the streets for some light exercise with a message.

“We are trying to make a statement to those individuals who think about committing this crime that we will not tolerate sexual assaults on ourselves, our Soldiers, or our battle buddies,” said Cossio.

“We want to raise awareness in a safe and fun environment,” said Air Force Capt. Vanessa Vandenbout, the JBB SARC of the 332nd.

Vandenbout said the walk could eventually turn into a monthly event.

“We just want to keep the dialogue going about sexual assault in the military,” she said.

Cossio said the walk helped educate people about the presence of the Equal Opportunity offices at JBB and the Department of Defense’s intent to eradicate sexual assault from the military through the SAPR program.

“We want those who see us walking to ask, ‘who are they’ and ‘what are they doing,’” said Cossio.  “Our answer is ‘sexual assault has no place in the military or on Joint Base Balad.”


news photo
Soldiers and Airman walk in support of sexual assault victims and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program Friday. Approximately 125 service members took part in Joint Base Balad's first "Act! Intervene! Motivate!" Walk.