CAMP BUTLER, OKINAWA, Japan --
III Marine Expeditionary Force employs a special set of warriors against the most heinous of enemies, sexual assault. These warriors are known as Uniformed Victim Advocates, better recognized as UVAs. They volunteer to go the extra mile to ensure the safety of their fellow brothers and sisters in arms.
UVAs are a completely confidential resource for potential victims of sexual assault. They are not required to report to anyone within the sexual assault victims’ chain of command, and they also provide service members with the option of restricted or unrestricted reporting and give information on the services they can request.
“I’m glad to help the Battalion and the Marines and Sailors however I can,” 1st Lt. Cinja Webster, 3rd Marine Division UVA
“If there is a sexual assault, the first thing that victim should do is find a UVA!” said 1st Lt. Cinja Webster, a UVA with 3rd Marine Division. “We do not take notes nor do counseling, we are solely here to provide appropriate and sensitive care for them to ensure they can take control of the situation and get back in the fight.”
The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program educates potential UVAs on their responsibilities, what services are available for victims of sexual assault, and how they can play an active part in prevention and response through small unit leadership.
Serving as liaison between potential sexual assault victims and service providers, UVAs create a safe environment for victims to speak openly. They are appointed by their chain of command and their local Sexual Assault Response Coordinator representative, undergoing approximately 40 hours of training in order to instruct, train and provide support to any victim in need.
“The training we undergo covers what a UVA is and we go very in-depth,” said Webster. “Throughout the training we do tours at the hospital and NCIS to see how they handle investigations and get a better understanding to give the victim as much information on the reporting process as possible.”
Being a UVA means being readily available at any time a Marine or Sailor is in need. UVAs are the front-line men/women who help ensure a service member is not only comfortable enough to reach out, but also that prompt aid is given after a traumatic event, according to Webster.
“I’m glad to help the Battalion and the Marines and Sailors however I can,” said Webster. “Ensuring victims feel comfortable to step forward and seek the help they need, and having complete confidence that they are being treated fairly, sensitively, with dignity, and without prejudice is part of my job.”
Resources that are available for potential victims of sexual assault are: 24/7 Sexual Assault Support Line- DSN: (315)-645-4673 Cell: 098-970-4673, D-Stress Line- DSN: (315)-645-7734 Cell: 098-970-7734, III MEF Command SARC: DSN: (315)-622-1007 Duty Cell: 080-1385-7013 and DOD Safe Helpline: 1-877-955-5247 www.safehelpline.org