Cadre and students of Company C, 304th Military Intelligence Battalion contributed to the Army’s mission of sexual violence prevention by celebrating National Denim Day April 23.
The campaign started 15 years ago to advocate Sexual Violence Awareness Month in April. Denim Day began in Italy when that nation’s supreme court overturned a rape conviction citing that the victim’s jeans were so tight, she must have helped her rapist remove them, thereby implying consent.
The next day, women of the Italian Parliament came to work in jeans to show their support of the victim. Denim Day has since become an American symbol of protest against the misconceptions surrounding sexual assault.
“[Denim Day for the Soldiers] is really designed to put an additional emphasis on sexual assault in the military and from a leadership perspective, because we have lieutenants here and they’re all going to be leaders in their units soon, so our whole idea is [that] they realize it is a problem and that we need to take action and prevent it,” explained Capt. Thomas Mahoney, Company C, 304th MI Bn.
Showing their own solidarity against sexual assault, company Soldiers wore jeans and a provided red t-shirt to Denim Day activities. The event started off at 6 a.m. with a 3.25-mile run. According to 1st Sgt. Edward Maschek, Company C, 304th MI Bn., Soldiers wore their physical fitness uniforms along with teal ribbons and glowing bracelets — teal is the official color of sexual violence awareness and prevention.
Later in the day, they wore their red and denim outfits to a barbeque lunch held at Tallmadge Hall, which was followed by Denim Day’s main activity, small group discussions facilitated by Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP-trained unit Soldiers.
The company was split up into four groups for the session, which Mahoney hoped would encourage Soldier participation. Each group focused on how to report a sexual assault incident and the types of reporting; safe kits, a forensic exam given to a victim, provided by a medical professional; and the actions a Soldier takes as a leader and peer to let the victim know what his or her options are after an incident.
“Ultimately we would like to prevent sexual assault but if it happens, we would like the Soldier who is assaulted to understand what [his or her] options are for medical care, legal action and counseling,” said Sgt. 1st Class Amy Bagley, training advising and counseling noncommissioned officer in charge, Company C, 304th MI Bn.
Bagley was one of the SHARP-trained facilitators and had the idea that the unit host the event. During her session, she also asked Soldiers what they would do to promote sexual assault awareness and prevention as leaders and what type of training approaches they would like to see.
“It’s getting them to think outside the box to create solutions to problems, so by having everybody come in and supporting the system, we’re actually getting them to look outside the box for creative solutions,” Maschek said.
While Denim Day started out as a company-planned event, it became recognized throughout the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence on Fort Huachuca. For more information on National Denim Day, visit www.denimdayusa.org.