By Sgt. Melissa Karnath, Defense Media Activity
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. --
The Marine Corps has a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault, an act that directly contradicts our Marine Corps values of honor, courage and commitment.
The Marine Corps takes measures to educate and train Marines on sexual assault prevention and response and its effect on our brothers and sisters in arms. The frontline representatives for this effort are known as uniformed victim advocates, or UVAs.
“It’s important for the Marine Corps, and every branch of the military, to have UVAs, because the UVA is an identified person that someone can go to for help,” said Sgt. Phillip Elgie, UVA for the Marine Detachment at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. “It also shows troops that the Marine Corps is doing everything to combat it and then help people who are affected by it.”
Advocates not only provide support, education, and training to Marines, they also play a large part in preventing sexual assault.
“Sexual assault prevention is the biggest part of what I do as an UVA,” Elgie said. “If I can train people and give them tools to prevent sexual assault from happening, such as noticing triggers and being situationally aware, that’s what will stop sexual assault.”
Marines can help prevent sexual assault by being active bystanders. If you observe a high-risk situation, the most effective way to prevent anything further from happening is by stepping up and intervening. Bystander intervention is the primary prevention strategy of the Marine Corps and is the most effective way to stop sexual assault.
Advocates provide access to numerous services and options to support victims in the aftermath of a sexual assault . The UVA stays in contact with the victim to ensure they are receiving the help they want and to assist victims in walking through the recovery process.
“Because of the training and knowing who the UVA was, I felt comfortable stepping forward about my situation,” said a sexual assault victim who wished to remain anonymous. “The UVA let me open up at my own pace and helped me decide what to do. (They) were always in contact with me and always checking in with me.
“Sexual assault is a very personal and traumatic thing. Having someone you can talk to is very important. The UVA position is set up so you know you have someone.”