Growing up, I never wore a seatbelt. In fact, my dad told me that I had a better chance at surviving a car accident by being thrown from the car rather than being strapped into my seat! When I joined the Navy 30 years ago, I didn’t wear a seatbelt. I figured the advice that my dad gave me had to be true. It wasn’t until I sat through numerous training sessions filled with facts, statistics and illustrations showing the deadly impact of not wearing a seatbelt that I changed my mind. Today, I don’t put my key in the ignition of my car without first buckling up.
This seatbelt story came to the forefront of my mind as I sat in the crowd during the Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response stand down. I believe that one stand down will not rid our service of sexual assaults. I’d go further and tell you that one mandatory general military training session will not stop sexual assaults. It will take many training sessions to make an impact on this hideous crime that goes against our core values. Sexual assault prevention should be talked about every single day.
It is daily honest and frank conversations about sexual assault prevention that will make a huge impact on our Sailors, allowing us to continue to Zero In on Excellence.
It is setting the standard, building trust and creating an open environment where respectful, professional discussion takes place about this serious problem that will make an impact on our ability to remain mission ready and focused. I call all of us to arms to eradicate sexual assault. I believe that together there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.
Chiefs, continue being engaged deckplate leaders. Set the standard and be the example. Talk to each other, talk with your Sailors, and make sure that you’re aware of the issues at hand. We must challenge ourselves to be familiar with all facets of this epidemic so that we can answer questions or point our Sailors in the right direction. Through your conversations and mentorship, find out what our Sailors understand and don’t understand when it comes to this topic.
Ask each Sailor that you have a conversation with to talk to someone else about sexual assault prevention. Pay it forward. Shipmates, charge each other with the responsibility to continue talking about sexual assault prevention until it ends. Encourage each other to think outside the box about how to eliminate this terrible issue that affects each one of us. Always remember that we control our words and our actions. Interaction and deterrence makes a difference. I say again, together, there is nothing that we can’t accomplish. Now let’s get after it.
Get more information and resources to combat sexual assault at www.sapr.navy.mil. Sexual assault affects Navy readiness, and the Navy is committed to preventing sexual assault. Join the Navy’s conversation about sexual assault on social media and help raise awareness by using #NavySAPR.
Tell us how you plan to help prevent sexual assault in the Navy. Let us know by commenting below.