This month has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) across our Navy and the theme is “Hurts One, Affects All. Prevention of Sexual Assault is Everyone’s Duty.” In support of this theme, the Fleet is holding weekly training sessions throughout the month focused on four topics: “Hurts One,” “Affects All,” “Prevention is Everyone’s Duty,” and “We Will Not Tolerate Sexual Assault.”
This issue is a very tough one for our Navy - it strikes at the core of who we are and what we believe. One of my fundamental beliefs is that we must honor and respect those around us and treat others as we would want to be treated. A violation of this respect is a violation of the individual dignity we possess as human beings. We all know sexual assault is wrong - and a clear violation of individual dignity - yet it is still happening within our ranks. Eliminating sexual assault in our Navy starts with changing our culture.
Now, I have visited many Fleet units and have great confidence that my deckplate leaders understand the seriousness of this issue and the impact it has on our commands and our Navy, but we have got to do better. Training is an important step in this process, but the training must be relevant and effective. We’re certainly not going to make progress by simply reading from Power Point slides and pounding the table harder. Our Sailors already know the difference between right and wrong, but we must ensure they understand the reality of sexual assault.
We need to actively engage with our Sailors and walk them through the realistic scenarios in which they find themselves on a weekly basis and talk candidly with them about the consequences of their decisions. We must also reinforce a strong esprit de corps in our units (we look out for our own!) – every member of a unit is a Shipmate and should be treated with the dignity they deserve. We must bring the strength of the unit to bear as a significant deterrent to any improper behavior and emphatically drive home a zero tolerance attitude toward this behavior just as we did in our campaign against drugs – not on my watch, not on my ship, not in my Navy!
Pro-active leadership is required to make this month’s efforts effective and ensure the message is heard and understood at all levels. But this effort cannot (and will not!) stop with just one month’s worth of focus.
And while we aren’t going to fix this problem overnight, with a strong and steady commitment from All Hands in the Fleet, I strongly believe we will make significant progress toward our goal of eliminating sexual assault in our Navy.
All the best, JCHjr
Click here to review a few slides about our SAPR vision and assessment.