On the hunt: Service members scavenge for sexual assault prevention

Cover Story

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Emerald Trias (center) works on a plan for the Battle Stations Scavenger Hunt on Oct. 12 with (from left) Lance Cpl. Wesley Bernard, Pfc. Phelix Hampton, Lance Cpl. Conor McAuliffe, Sgt. Skylar Major and Lance Cpl. Jonathan Ceipel. The event, held at the Navy Fleet and Family Support Center, was held in recognition of sexual assault awareness. (Photos by Nicole Munchel)

On a breezy Oct. 12 morning, about 30 service members gathered outside the Navy Fleet and Family Support Center to compete in the Battle Stations Scavenger Hunt in recognition of sexual assault awareness.

Service members were divided into groups of six or more during the two-hour competition hosted by the Navy Fleet and Family Support Center.

Navy Cryptologist Technicians 1st Class Angela Jones and Luis Torresellis run with the Navy team to the next station during the scavenger hunt hosted by the Navy Fleet and Family Support Center.

The scavenger hunt consisted of eight stations spread out within a 1.5-mile radius from FFSC to McGill Training Center. At each station stood victims of sexual assault, who asked service members a variety of sexual assault-related questions.

If answered correctly, a member of each group received a puzzle piece. Whoever finished the hunt with the completed puzzle or with the most puzzle pieces was considered the winner.

Before the start of the event, Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard wished participants luck in the hunt.

At the last station of the scavenger hunt, Navy Cryptologic Technician 3 Meaghan Veseth speaks about her experience as a survivor of sexual assault.

“We’re a very much joint community and this is an awesome opportunity for us to get some exercise, have some fun and have a healthy competition,” Rickard said.

“This is also a great opportunity for us to understand that this is something serious. We don’t want sexual assault to happen on our watch.”

Participants in the hunt included members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Each service member was also a certified sexual assault victim advocate.

“The prevention of sexual assault means to create a healthy environment where everyone should feel like they can go to people with their problems without feeling like they’re being taken advantage of,” Marine Sgt. Skyler Major said.

After the hunt, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Edward Vargas said the event was a good educational experience that gave service members guidance on “hand-in-hand communication” with leadership.

“If I could come up with a plan to prevent sexual assault, I would plan out a buddy system like what we have in the military,” Vargas said. “I believe having a buddy system will suppress the numbers that we have so far with sexual assault victims.”

Navy Captain Joe J. Johnson greets Navy Cryptologic Technician 3 Meaghan Veseth after she spoke about her experience as a sexual assault survivor.

Navy Capt. Joe Johnson took part in the scavenger hunt as well.

“We have a lot of victim advocates who are very knowledgeable and passionate about what they do,” he said.

“Every member of the DoD needs to not rest until we completely eradicate sexual assault. Until we do that, it’s important to have victim advocates to care for our victims.”

Not only did participants answer questions to try to complete the scavenger hunt, they also listened to assault stories from victims on their way to the finish line.

“One thing I really enjoyed from this experience was at one of the stations we got to hear a story from a sexual assault survivor,” Navy Cryptologic Technician William Hurd said. “It was really inspiring to see someone be so strong and able to talk about their experiences.”

When they completed the scavenger hunt, the service members met inside McGill.

The winners were members of the Marine Corps, who collected the most puzzle pieces.

“I felt that my group was very successful in the hunt,” Navy Cryptologist Technician 1st Class Angela Jones said.

“We got every puzzle piece, so we thought we won. But, when we finished, the Marines had already won — figures,” Jones said jokingly.

“However, this was the most fun I had this early in the morning in a long time.”

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