WASHINGTON (NNS) -- In a message to flag officers, commanding officers, and officers in charge, Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) Adm. Mark Ferguson highlighted Navy-wide accountability for sexual assault July 8.
The message from Adm. Mark Ferguson explains the Navy will soon announce policies and programs to address sexual assault across the fleet and sets the expectation Navy leadership will do everything they can to prevent the crime.
"Sexual assault ruins lives, divides teams, and erodes trust. As leaders, we must provide our Sailors a responsible, professional, and safe environment in which to work and live," said Ferguson in the message.
Ferguson told fleet leaders that preventing the crime of sexual assault starts with command climate. They must create atmospheres of trust and confidence that ensure Sailors can report sexual assault or sexual harassment without fear of retribution or retaliation.
He also stressed that once victims report crimes, it is the responsibility of the chain of command to ensure victims receive the appropriate level of care and support.
Command climate has a role in not only reassuring victims, but in sending a message that committing sexual assault will not be tolerated.
"We must reaffirm our commitment to our shipmates, and our actions must make clear to potential perpetrators of this crime that they will be held appropriately accountable," Ferguson said.
Telling leaders "this is our issue to solve," he reminded them they are accountable for
-- ensuring all Sailors are treated with dignity and respect,
-- incorporating sexual assault prevention measures into their commands,
-- providing responsive victim support,
-- ensuring all unrestricted sexual assault allegations are promptly reported to NCIS and investigated, and
-- holding offenders appropriately accountable.
In the near future, the Navy will announce additional policies and programs to address sexual assault, including a continued effort highlight the responsible use of alcohol. The goal of these programs is to promote safe living and working environments across the Navy.
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.