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Fort Benning leaders and community members from on and off post came together to pledge to continue fighting against sexual assault during a ceremony Friday in Derby Auditorium in McGinnis-Wickam Hall. The ceremony was held in recognition of April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
"We must do everything we can to highlight this," said Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster, commander of Fort Benning and the Maneuver Center of Excellence. "We all recognize there is more to do."
Capt. Eric Irwin, Fort Benning's special victims counsel, was the first of three guest speakers to address the audience. Irwin outlined some of the services available to those who come forward as victims of sexual assault, including various types of legal assistance and restraining orders.
Kyle Blair, director of the Muscogee County Sexual Assault and Support Center, spoke next.
"Our relationship with Fort benning is very good, and we are fortunate to have that," she said.
Blair talked about statistics relating to sexual assault and pointed out that the profile of a victim doesn't necessarily fit stereotypes.
The final speaker, Tammy Kennedy, is a survivor of abuse and sexual assault, as well as the author of Jingles Lost her Jingle: Discovering the Truth After Sexual Abuse. She shared her personal story with the audience and discussed how she grew up in an abusive environment. Many of the adults in her life knew she was being abused, but did nothing, Kennedy said.
"My grandmother knew something was wrong and she said nothing," Kennedy said. "If just one person in my life had spoken out, I would not have had to endure what I did."
The ceremony closed with members of the MCoE command group signing a pledge outlining the MCoE's commitment to continuing the fight against sexual assault.