‘They can come to us’

TORRINGTON – At its peak, Saturday was one of the hottest days of the last week, with temperatures climbing into the high 80s and maybe even the low 90s, depending on where you were and the reliability of the closest thermometer. 

It was compounded by an element seldom seen in this area – humidity. After a day of near constant rain on Thursday, the atmosphere was muggy and felt almost like the south instead of Goshen County’s typical arid climate. The conditions were atypical, to say the least. 

But that didn’t slow the Wyoming Army National Guard.  

Members of the WYARNG Recruiting and Retention team, some of their children and a few civilians marched a 5K course through the heart of Torrington Saturday morning in support of the Guard’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program. The march was only the first of several Staff Sgt. Felicia Holbrook is planning to observe SAPR month, which was originally supposed to be in April, but was moved to August due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“In the Wyoming Army National Guard, you know we have to go to drill and do a lot of other things,” she said. “I’m about willing to bet you that I do at least two to three more 5Ks for this cause this month. I know they’re going to do another 5K ruck march. There’s going to be a lot of 5Ks going on in the National Guard during the month of August.”

And the purpose is an important one. Holbrook said the Army has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault and harassment – and the WYARNG soldiers are there to help that philosophy spread amongst the community, too. 

“When you’re in the Army and the Wyoming Army National Guard, you become a family,” Holbrook said. “The last thing that we want to see is our family members getting hurt for any reason, and the Army has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to sexual assault and harassment. The Wyoming Army National Guard takes it very seriously. 

“We’ve adopted a new slogan – ‘Not in my squad.’ That’s basically letting everybody know that if you need me, I’m going to be there. And we’re out here in the community because we all live here. And so, we support our community, too. Our community is very important to us. So, if anybody in the community is having any issues, they need to know that they can come to us, whether you’re in the Army or not. You’re our family, you’re in our community. We love you. We want you to come to us.”

Holbrook, Spc. Wyatt Lackman and a few other soldiers donned rucksacks that had to weigh a minimum of 35 pounds. Others walked the route at a brisk pace, some ran and one participant even helped set the pace on a skate board. 

One civilian, Andrew Castro, dug deep for the final stretches of the 5K and sprinted to the finish. 

“It’s a great accomplishment to participate with them and it’s a great feeling and a good accomplishment,” Castro said. 

Twelve participants came out to participate in the 5K, which was just organized earlier in the week. And during the march, Holbrook said she explained the purpose to several civilians, therefore fulfilling the cause of the march – raising awareness for sexual assault and harassment. 

“I was bringing up the tail end of it, making sure everybody got in, but I had four people ask me what we were out here for and they were very supportive,” Holbrook said. “They see that flag and I think it makes them proud as a community that people are walking around with the American flag doing good things.”