FORT LEE, Va. –
Defense Contract Management Agency’s CARES Council was stood up in 2021 to address corrosive behaviors negatively impacting the workforce. Sexual assault is one of those destructive behaviors, and it can destroy lives and weaken the country’s national defense.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month, or SAAPM, and agency leadership wants the workforce to know their wellbeing is a top priority.
During his video message to the workforce Wednesday, DCMA’s director Army Lt. Gen. David Bassett encouraged his teammates to join him and DCMA’s Senior Leadership Team in supporting this important initiative.
“In recognition of Teal Tuesdays, I encourage you to wear teal clothing or a teal ribbon every Tuesday as a symbol of awareness and prevention,” he said. “I also encourage everyone — military included — to participate in Denim Day on April 26 as another symbol that you’re against this violent behavior.”
Although the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s Day of Action is the first Tuesday of April, DCMA leadership extended their support for the campaign by encouraging their workforce to wear teal every Tuesday in April. NSVRC’s website explains that the call to action encourages individuals and communities to show their support for survivors of sexual harassment and abuse by wearing teal, which is the color of sexual violence prevention.
According to the Denim Day’s official website, the observance began in 1999 after an Italian Supreme Court decision overturned a 1992 rape conviction and sentencing based on the victim’s clothing. The court argued that because the victim wore very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex. Enraged by the verdict, the women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans on the steps of the Supreme Court. This protest was picked up by international media, and a Los Angeles social service agency established the first Denim Day in the United States in April 1999.
As a Department of Defense fourth estate agency, DCMA also supports DOD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office’s theme this year: STEP FORWARD. Prevent. Report. Advocate. According to SAPRO’s website, this call to action encourages individuals to use their personal strengths to advance positive change in preventing sexual violence.
Cheryl Hendrix, DCMA’s SAPR program manager, said the agency must reinforce this theme throughout the year.
“We need to start preventing sexual assault and not just respond to it after the fact," she said. "The culture within DOD and our communities needs to change to where sexual assault is not accepted and it becomes the norm to ‘Step Forward’ and be an active bystander.”
Hendrix said everyone has a role to play when they see behaviors that could lead to sexual violence. “We must say something when we see something wrong, and report actions and behaviors that may harm others. We also should advocate for all sexual violence survivors so they know they’re not alone and have our support.”
Bassett reminded his teammates during his video message that resources and support are readily available if needed.
“Just click on the CARES ribbon icon on the desktop or home screen of any DCMA device,” he said.
These resources can also be found on the Get Help public website page.