PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) with training at Sharkey Theater on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH), April 6.
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the Department of Defense's SAAM theme this year is, "Hurts One, Affects All. Prevention of Sexual Assault is Everyone's Duty." The Navy will focus its efforts on awareness and prevention of sexual violence through the use of command-level education and special events throughout the month of April with a different theme each week.
Rear Adm. Frank Caldwell, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific spoke during the training emphasizing that sexual assault prevention is everyone's duty.
"This is not an isolated problem. It's a problem in the submarine force, and it's a problem throughout the Navy. The purpose of today is to raise your awareness and to make you sensitive to this problem," said Caldwell. "Sexual assault takes away from unit readiness. It is a crime. It is illegal, and we're not going to tolerate it. We're going to stamp it out. You have a responsibility to yourself, your Sailors and the people who work for you to take action not only to prevent, but to intervene and stop a behavior that's leading down a road that might end with sexual assault."
Leading up to the all hands training, Sailors observed 611 pairs of shoes lining the sidewalk leading to the theater. Each pair represents the number of sexual assault victims within the Navy last year. The National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii donated a large portion of the 611 pairs for the day with the rest coming from the Hickam thrift shop and Navy Marine Corps Relief Society thrift shop on JBPHH, and from donations provided by military personnel and civilians. The shoes will again be donated to local charities after the event.
"We cannot express enough how delighted we are to be able to help out and support this very worthwhile cause," said Diana Pinard, director of organizational planning and operations at the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii.
To help spread awareness, COMSUBPAC Sailors are encouraged to participate in regional activities throughout the month. These include "Bag" Sexual Assault where volunteers will bag groceries at the base commissary while giving out pertinent sexual assault awareness materials to the community with emphasis of new SAPR policies. A car wash to raise sexual assault awareness while collecting donations for local agencies that support sexual assault awareness and prevention and a SAAM 5-10K walk/run where military, family members and civilian personnel participate to promote sexual assault awareness.
"I cannot express enough the importance of all the training and events that are taking place to further educate our Sailors, civilians and their dependents on how to spot and prevent sexual assaults," said Master Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate Marion Rush Jr, COMSUBPAC Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program manager. "Sexual assault prevention and awareness should be a concern for all, because it happens to both men and women, and has far-reaching effects."
Sexual Assault Prevention is an important element of the readiness area of the 21st century Navy 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. Scripts and videos for each week's theme have been provided to commanding officers to help facilitate discussion throughout their commands. These engagement products, in addition to talking points, posters and other tools, are posted to Navy Personnel Command's Sexual Assault and Prevention website, http://www.sapr.navy.mil.
Help raise awareness by joining the conversation on social media using #SAAM.
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For more news from Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/subpac/.