Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade participate in a one-mile “Walk in Their Shoes” event at Fort Drum, New York., as part of National Denim Day, April 26. The annual event helps to raise awareness to the issue of victim blaming. (U.S. Army photos by Sgt. 1st Class Neysa Canfield, 10th MDSB Public Affairs)
10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade Soldiers walk to observe National Denim Day
Sgt. 1st Class Neysa Canfield
10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (April 26, 2023) – Unit guidons and large groups of Soldiers filled Po Valley and Camp Swift Road. However, unlike a typical physical training session, many Soldiers weren't wearing a uniform; instead, they wore jeans.
The 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade hosted a “Walk in Their Shoes” event in observance of Denim Day, where Soldiers walked a one-mile course. As part of the event, Soldiers were allowed to wear jeans for the entire day.
2023 marks the 24th year of the Denim Day campaign, which is observed in April as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Prevention Month. Denim Day was established after a rape conviction was overturned because the victim wore tight jeans, implying that she assisted the person who raped her in removing her jeans, thus giving consent.
"It angers me to know that something like this happened, and I feel horrible for the victim," said Spc. Orlando Vasquez, a wheeled vehicle mechanic with A Company, 548th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade. "But I think it did help to bring awareness to the issue of victim blaming, and it's just sad that all this had to happen."
Awareness is exactly what Staff Sgt. Trina McLoud, the sexual assault response coordinator for the 10th Division Sustainment Troops Battalion, had in mind when organizing the event.
"Although this is the 24th year that we have been observing Denim Day, we are still trying to fight this battle of sexual assault and rape prevention," she said. "We haven't overcome it just yet, so it's important that we continue to spread awareness so that people know how to prevent it or what resources are available in case something does happen."
During the one-mile course, SARCs and victim advocates from throughout the brigade had stations set up where they talked about the Sexual Harassment / Assault Response and Prevention program.
"We wanted to make sure we had more than just the brigade- and battalion-level SARCs for the event because we want to make sure Soldiers feel comfortable enough to come forward with any concerns and situations they might have," McLoud explained. "It's already hard for victims to come forward and report an incident, so we want to make sure they have a familiar face to rely on."
Vasquez added that the event was informative, and it gave him an understanding of the Army family surrounding him.
"This event made me realize that I have brothers and sisters to my left and right, and that if I need someone to talk to, they are going to be right there to help and support me," he explained.
According to McLoud, these observances aren't just one-time events.
"Even though we observe Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention in the month of April, this is a year-round program, and we need to make sure our Soldiers understand that."