PORTSMOUTH, Maine (NNS) -- Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) held its annual candle light vigil in support of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, April 3.
National Sexual Assault Awareness Month presents an opportunity for commands around the world to dedicate focused attention and training on the importance of eliminating this crime. The Department of Defense Sexual Assault Awareness Month theme is "Hurts one. Affects all. Preventing sexual assault is everyone's duty."
Sailors and shipyard civilians filed into the Thresher Memorial Chapel where each held an individual flame in solemn support of all who have been affected by the horrible crime of sexual assault.
"With its prevalence in this country most everyone has been, or knows of someone who has been affected by sexual assault," said Celestyne Bragg, PNSY sexual assault response coordinator. "We hold this service to reach out to one another with love and understanding - we share not only in the pain, but the hope of those victim survivors who live with this every day. It may not seem like much, but our 'one light' means a lot."
The somber vigil was concluded with words from PNSY's Chaplain, Lt.j.g. Phillip Stephens on "The Value of One."
"The theme of sexual assault awareness month, 'Hurts one. Affects all' speaks of the negative mishap of one that affects everyone else," said Stephens. "However, the same can be true about the opposite - one who stands up and speaks up can also affect us all. You may think that your voice is insignificant, but remember it only takes one ray of light to dispel the darkness."
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard supports the Navy's efforts to prevent sexual assault, support sexual assault victims, and hold offenders accountable. Progress has been made over the past several years to reduce incidents of sexual assault within the Navy's ranks, but more work must be done to eliminate this reprehensible crime. Throughout the month of April, the Navy and PNSY will focus its SAAM initiatives on awareness and prevention of sexual violence through the use of command-level education and special events.
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 Navy and Marine Corps. The Department of the Navy is working to aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, to support sexual assault victims, and to hold offenders accountable.
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.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.