GULF OF OMAN (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Sean Buck, director, 21st Century Sailor Office, visited the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to solicit feedback from crew about 21st Century Sailor programs, Feb. 7-8.
The 21st Century Sailor initiative, started in June 2013, is responsible for Sailors' total health and mission readiness with programs that include sexual assault prevention and response (SAPR), suicide prevention and alcohol and substance abuse prevention.
"The chief of naval operations has tasked me to be a one-stop shop for our Navy to have one accountable officer for all of these programs," said Buck. "That's how important this is to the leadership of our Navy."
The 21st Century Sailor initiative focuses on readiness, safety, physical fitness, inclusion and continuum of service.
During his visit, Buck held E-6 and below calls, met with the chiefs' mess, command triads, officers and command representatives of the programs he administers. Buck also answered questions that were broadcast on the ship's TV network.
"There are a lot of good programs and information out there that help Sailors and their families stay resilient in a time of long deployments and high operational tempo," Buck said. "It's important to the Navy that we get you that information, which is why I'm here."
Buck said it was equally important to find ways to keep Sailors engaged with deglamorization training such as suicide prevention, substance abuse prevention and sexual assault prevention.
Sailors in the crowd shared ideas for training that included small focused discussion groups, using peer-led training, fewer formal lectures with powerpoint presentations and more creatively communicated messages.
"I suggested that we use more interactive training for bystander intervention topics using the crew to act out different situations or using more peer-to-peer training to keep peoples' interest," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Roidy Amparo. "The admiral seemed open and genuinely interested in hearing new ideas on how to train the fleet."
Amparo said she looks forward to seeing the new training ideas implemented because SAPR, suicide prevention and drug abuse are important issues in the fleet.
Buck also discussed the Navy's physical fitness assessment (PFA) program, the effect of physical health on resiliency, and body composition assessment testing.
"The measure of body fat is an overall indicator of Sailors' total health and potential future health," said Buck. "Having extra body fat at a young age has the potential to put Sailors at higher risk for diseases later on in life."
Harry S. Truman Sailors suggested a more holistic approach to fitness for Sailors.
"People who can pass the physical readiness test but are overweight shouldn't just automatically fail," said Seaman Apprentice Deanna Lamee. "I think it would be more beneficial for the Sailor and the Navy to give them a chance to change their diet and get nutrition counseling instead of just putting them on the fitness enhancement program."
During the call-in question and answer forum, Buck responded to questions about the perception that seeking help for mental health or substance abuse is a sign of weakness.
"I encourage Sailors who are struggling with thoughts of suicide or a substance abuse problem to ask for help," said Buck. "Asking for help with a problem is a sign of strength and honesty with yourself."
The Navy is an organization that has a vested interest in helping Sailors who are experiencing issues, which is why the programs he administers exist. Sailors who have a problem will not be discarded or pushed out, but helped and accepted back in, explained Buck.
"I encourage Sailors to be proactive about seeking help rather than letting issues get out of hand or to the point that they are either hurting themselves or suffering disciplinary consequences."
Making sure Sailors and Marines have the information and resources they need to be strong and mission ready is the most important thing he does.
Buck's visit to Harry S. Truman is part of a 19-stop tour.
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.