By MC2 (SW) Justin A. Johndro, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Northwest
EVERETT, Wash. — Sailors assigned to Naval Station Everett (NSE) gathered for an advocate volunteer appreciation brunch, held at the Grand Vista Ballroom, April 28.
During the meal Catherine Hix, the command Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Coordinator (SARC), showed appreciation for the continued dedication from sexual assault prevention and response (SAPR) advocates by honoring them with certificates of appreciation and recognition from the command’s senior leadership.
The event featured Rear Adm. Jeff Ruth, Commander Navy Region Northwest, as a guest speaker and he spoke about the importance of volunteer advocates in today’s Navy.
“I take personal offense when members of our organization are victims of sexual assault,” said Ruth. “Especially when the violator is someone in the Navy family who should be their protector, not their predator.”
According to Hix, the primary objectives of National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month are education and awareness, not only of the problem of sexual assault, but also prevention and intervention.
SAPR advocates are volunteer Sailors who undergo a qualification period to become liaisons and provide a support role for victims of sexual crimes.
“A SAPR advocate may be a Sailor who others may not know well,” said Hix. “I assure you that each advocate goes through more than 16 hours of additional training to hold the title as a victim advocate.”
Also featured during the event was the ‘Chalking it up for Sexual Assault Awareness’ mural contest. Commands throughout the Northwest region entered the contest and were judged by the advocates and senior leadership, for the best SAPR themed mural. The winning group was the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) and received a placard.
As a victim advocate, they provide critical help for those in need. They also aid and offer training on the subject of prevention and understanding what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
“I wanted to be able to provide support to someone who was a victim,” said Electronics Technician 1st Class Tracy Rico, describing why she volunteered for NSE’s SAPR program. “I do think it helps Sailors to know there is a system. Because of the SAPR program, victims know they don’t have to stay quiet and take the burden of their experience on by themselves.”
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response is an important element of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor initiative, which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy. The Department of the Navy is working aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, to support sexual assault victims, and to hold offenders accountable.