NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- USS Theodore Roosevelt's (CVN 71) executive officer conducted training April 16 with several key members of the ship's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) team.
As part of the Navy's Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign, Cmdr. Mark J. Colombo directed the training as part of a comprehensive review of the command's SAPR programs.
"In addition to the training we are providing each of our Sailors as part of the Navy's Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I wanted to take the time to review our command programs with the core cadre of experts charged with training, preventing, and responding to sexual assaults," said Colombo.
Participants in the high-level discussion included command SAPR representatives, victim advocates, religious ministries, legal, medical, DAPA, NCIS and public affairs personnel.
"Every person in this room plays a role in either training, preventing, or responding to a sexual assault," said Colombo. "To the extent that sexual assault is an attack on a Sailor, I want to make sure we clearly understand our respective roles and have the programs in place to ensure we can adequately address this important issue."
"Prevention and response are equally important in the SAPR program," added Colombo. "In a perfect world, we would focus all of our efforts on successfully preventing sexual assaults, thus eliminating the need for a response capability. Regrettably, we can't rely on the ideal scenario, so we need to be prepared to properly respond to sexual assaults as well, with the primary focus on supporting the victim."
In an effort to achieve 100 percent training for every Sailor, SAPR representatives are also participating in deckplate training with each of the 18 departments aboard Thedoere Roosevelt. The biggest push from the ship's leadership is for Sailors to have a plan andstsick with it when on liberty.
"Prevention is key, and intervention is big," said Chief Electronics Technician (SW/IDW) Latoya R Blaine. "The more people see it and more people stop it from happening the less cases we will have."
"If you see a person trying to take your Shipmate out of that plan, you need to have the courage to stand up and stop it," said Blaine. "Bystander intervention is key for successful prevention."
Theodore Roosevelt is also spreading the word throughout the ship with a comprehensive internal strategic communication plan to promote awareness about sexual assault.
"Action will let others know that sexual assault can happen to them - this will help prevent it," said Blaine. "People will start being more aware of their surroundings and looking for signs when they are on liberty. They will start looking out for their shipmates' best interests without compromising fun."
"We can't save everyone, but if we can save one person, then this training is not wasted," said Blaine. "We want to be there for those who are affected, we want to say, 'we want to help you, Shipmate.' We want others to know the resources that are available, because that emotional burden may be with you for the rest of your life, and it could be our burden too."
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.
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For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.