09 April 2012

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


As usual, you are right on the money, and right on top of the issue at just the right time. This is an issue that seriously haunted us in the 60's through the 80's when I was an active duty Sailor, and still continues, albeit to a lesser extent, today. The statistics you reveal in your powerpoint presentation should scare the hell out of anyone who even just "turns a blind eye" to this issue. It's high time other folks at your level in all government agencies, not just the Department of the Navy, invest the time and effort that you do to ensure that OUR Navy remains a place where those who go in harm's way can at least feel safe and secure in their own ships and squadrons and on leave and liberty with friends and family. Your timeliness in posting this blog continues to set the level of commitment that I have come to expect from EVERYTHING you do.

The Navy is going to be left with a huge void when you decide to hang up your hat for the last time. I sincerely hope you continue to speak to and about our Navy for a long time to come. You have faced every controversy in your tenure as the commander of USFF head on and I, for one, appreciate the genuine honesty and candor I feel when I read your blog. I just KNOW you MEAN every word of every blog entry when I read it: whether it's an issue such as this, or just a visit to a ship or squadron to talk to the deckplates Sailors as well as the Chief's Mess and Wardroom to find out what's REALLY GOING ON at the command. And, THEN, you take the steps necessary to make sure if something is broken, it gets fixed. And, unlike some who have come before you, you don't waste the Navy's resources and time fixing things that are NOT broken. However, there is still work to do to "fix" sexual abuse, and as usual, you've already begun the cycle of "fixing" it. If your words and deeds stop even just one sexual assault from happening, this blog entry will be worth every word. Bravo Zulu, sir!