By Rear Adm. Sean Buck
Director, 21st Century Sailor Office
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, recognized around the world each year – both in civilian society as well as within many militaries of our partner nations.
This year, the Department of Defense will pursue the united theme: “Live Our Values: Step Up to Stop Sexual Assault.”
Sexual assault prevention and response is a priority year-round, but April brings special, focused attention to the impact and scope of sexual assault, as well as renewed attention towards effective methods of prevention.
Commands are encouraged to take time this month to review where the Navy has been over the past year – and there are many initiatives to share.
We started a program called victims legal counsel, which assigns Navy officers in the Judge Advocate General Corps directly in the service of victims; began hiring deployment resiliency counselors for our big deck ships, in order to provide continuity of care for our deploying carrier and expeditionary strike groups; and instituted roving patrols in an attempt to curb the destructive behaviors happening on our bases.
These initiatives are already making a difference. We’re controlling what we own.
Later in the month, we’ll ask you to sit down with your shipmates and co-workers, and think ahead to the next year in order to dedicate yourself to be an active bystander – to step up and intervene in potentially destructive situations.
Each installation and command will highlight this month in their own way. Get out and participate in events, meet your local sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates, and talk to your shipmates about bystander intervention. Raise awareness, promote prevention and challenge social norms and beliefs which do not live up to our Navy values and culture. Step up to stop sexual assault.