By Rear Adm. Sean Buck
Director, 21st Century Sailor Office
Earlier this week, I joined U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, the director of the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, on a visit to one of our fleet concentration areas, Norfolk, Va. It was a great opportunity to receive an invitation from Maj. Gen. Snow to accompany him to help guide him through the familiarization with the Navy and our maritime-centric culture. It also afforded me a chance to engage with the fleet. I can’t get to San Diego and Norfolk enough times to meet with Sailors.
As the director of the DOD SAPR Office, Maj. Gen. Snow has the responsibility of being that single point of authority in the DOD that promulgates the policy on sexual assault prevention and response. He represents all of the services and what he’s trying to do is get out and understand the culture of the Navy, of the Air Force, of the Marine Corps. As an Army officer, this visit was a chance for him to understand the nuances of each respective service’s culture. He joined me in Norfolk to get an appreciation on how some of those policies and initiatives that have been put in place by the secretary of Defense are being implemented by Fleet Forces Command.
We both believe that the problem of sexual assault will be solved out in the fleet by Sailors. In Washington, we promulgate policies, but it’s at the deck plate level where real changes are being made. We came to Norfolk to get an appreciation of how those policies are being implemented aboard ships and shore installations and to see what things are working and what isn’t regarding sexual assault prevention and response.
We spent time with sexual assault response coordinators, victim advocates, medical first responders, the regional legal team and Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and Sailors aboard USS Cole (DDG 67). It’s clear to me that everybody recognizes that sexual assault is an issue in our Navy and they’re committed to reaching the goal of eliminating sexual assault from the fleet.
I plan on visiting the fleet again very soon, but in the meantime, I encourage you to share with me what you see is working and what isn’t regarding SAPR. Leave your comments below and I’ll see you out in the fleet soon.