By Kaylee LaRocque
NAS Jax Public Affairs Officer
Sailors and civilian from Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) and tenant commands showed their support for preventing sexual assaults during a silent walk down Yorktown Avenue April 27.
Nearly 75 participants wore teal shirts and carried signs during the event which was sponsored by the NAS Jax Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
"This silent walk is a show of solidarity and a reminder that sexual assault is something that we fight every day and something that we won't tolerate," said NAS Jax Commanding Officer Capt. Sean Haley.
"So thank you for coming out today to show support for those victims of sexual assault."
The event was coordinated by NAS Jax FFSC Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Maria Caceres. "Today we join those victims who don't disclose, for whatever reason, what has happened to them," she said.
"As we walk in silence, we will feel how heavy this burden is for these victims. This is something they have told us - that during the time they were unable to disclose this information, they felt a huge heaviness that was lifted once they talked about it."
Before heading out, Lt. Kyron Bell, NAS Jax chaplain, offered a blessing to the group and those affected by sexual assault.
Participants walked about eight blocks from Building 1 to Patriots Park where a short ceremony remembered those affected by sexual assault.
"This walk was dedicated to all the victims out there," said Caceres. "And, I want to tell them that they are not alone, we are here for you."
NAS Jax Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Civilian Victim Advocate Support Specialist LaTresa Henderson read a testimony of a rape victim serving in the Navy who reported the incident through her SAPR advocate.
"It's hard for people to come forward and report these incidents because of what happens after they come forward," said Henderson. "They are concerned about their work and how they will move forward. So we are here to let them know we will stand by them and are their voice."
Several partner organizations also attended the event including The Quigley House in Clay County and Women's Center of Jacksonville.