USS KEARSARGE, At sea (NNS) -- April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and three Sailors aboard USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) are playing a prominent role in the campaign to inform the fleet about the affects of sexual assault.
Aviation Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Robert Lee, Aviation Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Margarita Huamantorres and Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Ruby Millanes are all featured in a 30-second advertisement that can currently be seen on various Navy media outlets, including, navy.mil and Facebook.
The message is simple and it is also the theme of the month. "Hurts one. Affects all. Preventing sexual assault is everyone's duty."
The three Kearsarge Sailors, along with a few other Sailors stationed around the Mid-Atlantic region, let their voices be heard loud and clear on the topic.
"Maybe my voice could prevent something like that from happening to somebody, or my voice will give somebody the courage to speak up and say something," said Lee, a native of Malden, Mass.
"Something like this is important, not only for the Navy but for our nation," said Huamantorres, a native of Miami. "I think promoting this will help people learn that sexual assault will not be tolerated."
Lee said when he was first asked to be a part of the advertisement, which was recorded in March, he did not realize the importance of it. Now that he sees how the video is being used, he is proud to be a part of it.
"I guess I didn't realize the significance," said Lee. "It makes me feel good that I was the voice for the command and the Navy."
To help push the Navy's message, Kearsarge will air the ad and other videos on the Shipboard Information, Television and Entertainment (SITE) TV throughout the month. Additionally, messages and posters will be seen in the Summit and in the Plan of the Day (POD). The crew will also be conducting weekly training - all in an effort to prevent sexual assault at its core.
"Sexual assault is unacceptable and its roots need to stop at all levels," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, in a message to the fleet. "It undermines our Navy Core Values and Ethos and it undercuts safety and readiness. We need to address it for what it is - a real danger."
Millanes, a Phoenix native, shares the admiral's strong feeling about the issue.
"Being in the video makes me feel part of something important," said Millanes. "The Navy needed to do this because I think there are some people out there who still aren't getting the message....Hopefully the video will make an impact."
Although these Sailors are thankful for their moment in the spotlight and the opportunity to bring such a powerful message to the fleet, they aren't all ready for Hollywood just yet.
"I'm done with my acting career...I'm going to stick with the Navy," said Lee.
The Annual Report of sexual assault in the military reports there were 611 sexual assaults in the Navy in fiscal year 10. Forty-nine percent of unrestricted reports were aggravated sexual assaults.
The spots can be viewed at the following links: http://youtu.be/Hfp0elk74Dw and http://youtu.be/r6-ZDIywkGA.
Navy officials encourage commands to think "outside the box" when communicating about sexual assault awareness. A good example is one about bystander intervention produced by the Great Lakes chapter of the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Descisions that can be seen here: http://youtu.be/Z_LzdRj4ho8
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 Department. The Department of the Navy (DoN) is working 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.
To find out more about SAAM and the Navy's efforts, visit the Navy Personnel Command's Sexual Assault and Prevention Web site, http://www.sapr.navy.mil.
For more news from USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd3/.