USS KEARSARGE, At Sea (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) is one of many commands in the fleet that is using the month of April to raise awareness of sexual assault.
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The Navy has issued a directive for the prevention of sexual violence through special events and command education.
SAAM is an annual campaign with the goal to raise awareness about sexual violence and to educate commands as well as the individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.
"Sexual assault doesn't just affects one it affect everybody and it brings down morale," said the Command SAPR, Chief Logistics Specialist Natali Philip. "It is important to know where to go and who to talk to so that a Sailor can get the help they need. It is an ugly crime and we need to get the information out there. It is better for the command and it is better for the Navy."
The 2012 SAAM campaign encourages senior leaders and Sailors to join in conversations on how to respect one another in order to prevent sexual violence.
By starting the conversation, the program will promote healthy behaviors that encourage healthy sexual interactions and relationships that are consensual and respectful within the Navy.
The SAAM campaign also provides guidance and practical tools for discussing healthy sexuality within the context of sexual violence for advocates, counselors, prevention educators, and activists.
"I think it's important because many people are afraid to report sexual abuse so having somebody to go to makes the person feel comfortable," said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Ruby Anne Millanes, a participant in the recent SAAM video. "Giving training is not just the responsibility of the Sexual Assault Prevention Response (SARP) Office it is all of our responsibilities, 'like they said what hurts one hurts all.'"
As a public health, human rights and social justice issue, sexual violence affects many and has negative effects on the command. Throughout the month of April, the Navy will observe SAAM through planned events and activities to reinforce prevention and education efforts.
Navy has developed a theme for each week focused on prevention education. The first week is, "Hurts One", followed by "Affects All," then, "Prevention is Everyone's Duty," and the last week is, "We will not tolerate Sexual Assault." Each week there will be education and training on prevention of sexual assault and harassment in the work place.
"It is important for us to educate our Sailors so that we can stop sexual assault from happening in our command," said Philip. "We need to get the information out there and give training so that incidents do not occur like so many have in the past."
The chief of naval operations considers sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention strategy an integral part of operational readiness. One of SAAM's prevention initiatives is to focus on achieving cultural change to eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassment from all the ranks. In addition, leaders at all echelons are required to take responsibility, be motivated to act, to intervene, and establish an environment free from sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response is an important element of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy and Marine Corps. The Department of the Navy is working to aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, to support sexual assault victims, and to hold offenders accountable.
Help raise awareness by joining the conversation on social media using #SAAM.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd3/.