What you need to know about the Navy's Expanded Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Initiatives

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What you need to know about the Navy's Expanded Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Initiatives

by: Rear Adm. Sean Buck, Director | .
21st Century Sailor Office | .
published: July 26, 2013

I’m pleased to introduce myself as the new director of the 21st Century Sailor Office, N17 and the Chief of Naval Operation Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response officer. This is an important job that encompasses many programs that are vital for keeping our Sailors safe, happy and productive.

Today, I would specifically like to address initiatives that have been put in place to combat sexual assault. The armed forces continue to provide the attention that this serious problem deserves and I am proud to explain the great efforts that the Navy is undertaking to provide a safe working environment for all Sailors.

What is the role of the CNO’s SAPR officer?

The SAPR officer is in charge of the development and implementation of training and policies throughout the Navy to eliminate sexual assault from our ranks. Sexual assault is a safety and readiness issue for our force, and we must address it with efforts at all levels of the chain of command. The increased focus the Navy is giving to his high-priority mission demands dedicated positions within our force as well as bringing additional specialized professionals onboard.

What sorts of professionals are being hired and where will they be?

We will be hiring civilians with experience responding to cases of sexual assault. These resiliency counselors will be deployed with carrier strike groups, expeditionary strike groups and amphibious ready groups by the end of fiscal year 2014. They provide services, support and coordination for sexual assault prevention and response. However, resiliency counselors are not limited to assisting with issues related to sexual assault; they are also there to help Sailors cope with stress, depression, thoughts of suicide, or other life situations. The overall health of our Sailors is a top priority that will improve by adding these skilled professional counselors to our fleet.

What new roles within the ranks are being developed?

Each Navy installation and fleet concentration area will have a senior flag officer designated to lead the area SAPR program. This officer will establish discussions between installation representatives, members from the command, and the local community to review progress in eliminating sexual assault. At higher echelon commands, an O-4 or above will serve as the designated SAPR officer, who will coordinate command SAPR objectives and report progress directly to the commander.

Many of the cases of sexual assault occur among junior enlisted. What are you doing to specifically address this population of Sailors?

Rigorous SAPR training has already been incorporated into the curriculum at boot camp in Great Lakes. We have received very positive response to this and plan to roll out this process to other Navy installations. Additionally, as part of our recent initiatives, we want to ensure that new accessions remain aware of the seriousness of this crime. Roving barracks patrols will be initiated and well as surveying of potentially vulnerable areas to determine if improvements need to be made to create a safer environment.

How will progress be monitored?

There are several methods available for a Sailor to report a sexual assault; it is only by encouraging victims to come forward that we can ensure the victim gets the help they need and that leadership can accurately determine the magnitude of the problem. However, because some may be reluctant to come forward, anonymous command climate surveys play an important role in making leadership aware of any problems or concerns within their command. A command climate survey must be done within 90 days of any new commanding officer assuming command and then once every 12 months thereafter. I encourage every Sailor to take these surveys seriously and answer the questions in them honestly. Only through your help and participation can we learn about problems or concerns that we need to address and correct.

For more information on these latest initiatives see NAVADMIN 181/13.

Additional information and resources to combat sexual assault is available 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.

What do you think about these initiatives to combat sexual assault?

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