Update on Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Initiatives

Editor’s note: The Department of the Navy sexual assault survey for 2013 is open until Jan. 6, 2014. The password for all military participants is 2013Survey.

By Rear Adm. Sean Buck
Director, 21st Century Sailor Office

As with any problem, the first step is taking ownership. Sexual assault is my problem and yours. What hurts one of us, hurts all of us. Shipmates, I need your absolute commitment to help me rid our Navy of sexual assault. This problem not only affects our readiness, but it is divisive, it destroys vital trust, and hinders our ability to operate as a team. Whether the victim or the accused is in your work center, it negatively affects your command’s ability to place the mission first.

Addressing the issue of sexual assault in its totality – from understanding the problem, supporting those affected by it, and most importantly, preventing it from ever occurring – is one of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert’s highest priorities. It is also my highest priority. For me, it represents a significant safety issue. Every Sailor and their family have the right to serve their country without fear. That right doesn’t become reality until we make it real – through our positive actions each and every day, at work and at home.

I’d like to take this opportunity to update all of you on exactly what your Navy is doing to eradicate sexual assaults from within our ranks. We continue sexual assault prevention and response training for everyone in the Fleet, and this past summer, we even created a training program for our civilian teammates. I think that these efforts are paying off. We have seen a marked increase in reports of alleged sexual assaults this year. We believe this is because of the training Sailors receive about what sexual assault actually is and the various ways they can report sexual assaults. Most importantly, we believe the increased reporting is due to the trust that is continually earned by our chains of command – any allegation of assault or harassment will be responded to and investigated with every resource our Navy can bring to bear. As Sailors become more aware of their options, they feel more comfortable coming forth to report these crimes – and know that something will be done about it.

Now, I know that there is no one “silver bullet” solution, but if taken collectively, I am convinced our ongoing efforts will help to reduce and ultimately eliminate sexual assault from our ranks.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I will share with you more information about the first of our four specific lines of sexual assault prevention and response effort – prevention. Thanks for stopping by.