Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Honor Bound - Sexual Assault Prevention

Hey Shipmates,

Returned a short while ago from the first day of the DON Sexual Assault Prevention Summit in DC. Opening remarks were provided by Secretary Mabus who talked about the importance of the Chief’s Mess and Staff NCO’s to set the tone within a command and provide an atmosphere of non-retribution. He mentioned that research has shown a lack of understanding of what sexual assault is and the difference between sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Following the SECNAV was Ms. Claudia Bayliff, Esq. who is an attorney and educator who works on issues related to violence against women. Her brief was extremely informative.

The Chief Of Naval Operations was accompanied by Mrs. Roughead and he spoke about the correlation of our Core Values: HONOR and the summit banner of “Honor Bound”; COURAGE and how it relates to those who come forward or intervene; and COIMMITTMENT to addressing and correcting the activity.

I’ll add that our effectiveness as a unit is our ability to trust each other to watch our back or “cover your six” at times of high interest or combat. Sexual Assault tears away and erodes the very trust within that unit.

In addition, we have to continue to stress the deglamorization of alcohol as most if not all sexual assaults happen under the influence of alcohol.

A few additional talking points:
. Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program is a top priority for the Secretary of the Navy. Navy and Marine Corps leadership are committed to eliminating sexual assault and ensuring that the goals of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Programs are achieved by all commands, responding to victims, and holding offenders accountable.
. We work toward these goals by sustaining a robust sexual assault prevention and response policy, identifying and eliminating barriers to victims reporting, ensuring that care for victims of sexual assault is available and accessible, and by providing continuous, relevant, and effective training and education on sexual assault prevention for our Sailors and Marines.
. The impact of sexual assault on Navy and Marine Corps readiness dramatically effects morale, unit cohesion and operational readiness. It is the most under reported violent crime in society. It is incompatible with Navy and Marine Corps ethos and core values, and high standards of professionalism.
. A multi-disciplinary approach is critical for effective prevention, victim response, and offender accountability. The key stakeholders include the command, BUMED, NCIS, Judge Advocate General, Training Command, Chaplains, and Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs).
. Victims who receive advocacy, medical, legal, investigative and counseling services are more likely to participate in the legal system than those who do not. One of the strongest predictors of conviction is the victim's participation in the process. Fleet sends