GULF OF OMAN (NNS) -- The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) is in the process of conducting command-wide Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) training.
The training is being conducted to comply with NAVADMIN 156/13 and NAVADMIN 158/13 that mandates all military service members and Department of Defense (DoD) employees must complete command-SAPR training before July 1.
With the Navy's ongoing efforts to increase sexual assault awareness, Sailors on board Nimitz are doing their part to help erase it from Navy culture.
According to the Navy's Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Report to the DOD, there were 425 unrestricted reports and 204 restricted reports of sexual assault made by female victims, 55 unrestricted reports and 37 restricted reports were made by male victims. If broken down, 89 percent of victims were female and 11 percent were male.
"It's a piece of the puzzle that we must complete towards the ultimate goal of eradicating sexual assault crimes completely," said Master Chief Electrician's Mate Ben Rushing, a facilitator at one of the sessions on board Nimitz. "Talking about sexual assault brings the problem to the forefront so we can dissect it, understand it and get rid of it."
The goal of the recent SAPR training is to reemphasize the Navy's zero tolerance policy regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment, as well as review the types of reporting and services available to the victims of these crimes.
"However, unlike previous Navy-wide SAPR training, this stand down focuses more on our individual roles and responsibilities in ending this behavior within our ranks," said Cmdr. Darrell S. Canady, another facilitator. "The audience is encouraged to play an active part in the training, helping to separate myth from reality and to identify warning signs and intervention points prior to an assault taking place. The heart of the message being if we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem."
According to Rushing, the recent SAPR training is not the only way Nimitz is addressing sexual assault.
"[Nimitz is] enabling an atmosphere where frank discussions can occur in the Chief's Mess, the Wardroom and our workcenters," said Rushing. "This isn't a point the finger at anyone or any group type of thing, it's a team effort that we must embrace to solve it here on Nimitz."
The recent SAPR training is more interactive than SAPR training that has been conducted in the past on board Nimitz.
"[It] encourages all of us to speak directly about this serious and sensitive topic," said Rushing.
Sexual assault is not limited to any one rank in the military, and it can happen to anyone, male or female.
"One of the statistics really hit home," said Rushing. "[In] 11 percent of the reported sexual assaults, men were the victims. Additionally, for every reported assault, three to five more assaults or harassments go unreported. That's a lot of Sailors suffering in silence."
The message Sailors should take away from SAPR training is that it is not a problem big-Navy, or even Nimitz' leadership, can solve alone.
"It takes each of us taking responsibility for our own actions and stepping in when we see something wrong to end this type of behavior," said Canady.
To help stop sexual assault, Canady said that Sailors must form the first line of defense.
"Whether through better personal choices, avoiding risky behavior, or stepping in to help a shipmate, it takes deckplate leadership at all levels to overcome this problem," said Canady.
Get more information and resources to combat sexual assault 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.
For more news from USS Nimitz (CVN 68), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn68/.