The fourth and final message for the month of April to those in the Navy family is a resounding warning: 'We will Not Tolerate Sexual Assault'.
Sexual assault is a blight on the United States' armed forces, with a crime occurring three times a day in the Navy alone. However, the Navy is also on the forefront of proactive steps to eliminate sexual assault from the ranks for good, and Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) provides opportunities for all hands to learn about the risks and impact that sexual assault can bring about.
SAAM in the Navy looks to break down the barriers around talking about an admittedly uncomfortable topic by discussing the issue around 4 themes: Hurts One, Affects All, Prevention is Everyone's Duty, and We Will Not Tolerate Sexual Assault.
Sailors will attend educational standdowns throughout the month, and a multitude of events will be taking place throughout NDW. This week's theme is 'We Will Not Tolerate Sexual Assault', which is a battle cry against the heinous act. The Navy has an absolute zero-tolerance policy towards sexual assault, which reminds offenders that they have no place here.
"Every Sailor should be saying: Sexual Assault, will not be tolerated," said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick D. West. "Continue to make me proud and eradicate sexual assault from our ranks."
According to Chandra Vickers, Deputy Equal Employment Officer (EEO) for Naval District Washington (NDW), the close quarters required of military men and women makes it a prime demographic for "familiarity breeding contempt", but ultimately [military members] will have to rely on their training, which she says is key to stopping this problem.
SAAM is being recognized throughout the Navy, and NDW is no exception. Events included a Ribbon Tying at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, in which Sailors and Airmen tied teal ribbons, the symbol adapted for sexual assault, to trees around the base in order to increase awareness. The National Capitol Region (NCR) as a whole also conducted a Sexual Assault Awareness Walk, also to increase awareness. Briefs have been conducted at Anne Arundel Community College and the National Security Agency/Fort Meade.
"I am very encouraged by the sexual assault awareness events and training efforts that are going on throughout the Navy this month," said Rear Adm. Martha Herb, Director, Personnel Readiness and Community Support. "We can no longer afford to be silent on this issue. I encourage all [Sailors] to join in on the discussion."
For more information on SAAM and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR), please visit www.sapr.navy.mil.