Runners, walkers aim to bring attention to sexual assault on military bases

Hundreds of runners and walkers will take to the streets of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island later this month to fight the rise of sexual assaults in the military.

As part of the Department of Defense's Sexual Awareness Month, officials at Parris Island have planned a 5K run/walk on April 13 and a comedy show for active-duty Marines and sailors April 27 aimed at preventing sexual assault within the Corps and in the Beaufort area.

"We're not raising money or anything. We just want to have people come out and acknowledge that this is an issue," said Carlos Lowe, the depot's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program manager.

This is the depot's second year organizing events for Sexual Awareness Month.

The events come just a month after the Pentagon released a report showing that the number of reported sexual assaults across all branches of the military increased 11 percent from 2008 to 2009. About 20 percent of sexual assaults in the military go unreported, according to the Pentagon.

The report found that the attacks typically involved enlisted service members between 18- and 24-years old. Males most often were the attackers, it said.

It is those Marines and their superiors that depot officials hope to reach this month, said Lora Quincy, the depot's assistant chief of staff of plans, programs andassessment.

"If you have one sexual assault, it's one too many," Quincy said. "We want to hit all of the Marines and sailors but especially those 18- to 24-year-olds and their senior leaders. We need those senior leaders to be aware of what's happening."