PEARL HARBOR - Feedback from Sailors in the fleet is vital to understand what problems are prevalent, what policies work and what needs to be changed in order to deter and prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault incidents.
One way of gathering this information is a Department of Navy-wide, voluntary, anonymous sexual assault survey, initiated by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.
"We need as large a sample of our Sailors as possible to minimize data errors and to really understand trends that our Sailors are seeing day-to-day," said Capt. Don Hodge, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Officer for Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
The results of the survey, which began Oct. 15 and ends Jan. 6, will wrest the true frequency of sexual assaults involving Sailors and Marines, the circumstances surrounding those incidents and the factors affecting their reporting.
"We have not attempted a survey of this type for over two years - our Navy has pushed out a lot of training, education, and information related to Sexual Assault Prevention and Response since that last survey," said Hodge. "This current survey will help us gauge the Navy's efforts thus far and help shape additional policy and programs."
This information is critical to inform the Navy's SAPR program progress, future policy, training, messaging and awareness.
"Sexual assault is the most under-reported crime in both military and civilian settings," Hodge said. "This survey will help us better understand the scope of the problem so we can put the right resources towards victim care. It is about taking care of our Sailors."
Comparatively, the Navy has only seen about half of what the total response was for the survey released in 2011.
"The SAPR survey is an extremely important tool that leadership will use in determining changes needed within personnel programs and where victim support can be improved," said Master Chief Petty Officer John Ullery, Command Master Chief, Navy Region Hawaii. "This will enable those service members involved to be able to continue to execute the mission while receiving assistance. The Navy has spent a lot of money and effort in educating our forces in the past couple of years and will use this survey to continue with our commitments."
"Sexual assault is one of the most destructive crimes we know," said Hodge. "It can devastate trust and destroy teamwork. Our focus is to ensure each victim of sexual assault is properly taken care of, regardless of whether they chose a restricted or unrestricted report."
After taking the survey, Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 3rd Class Desiree Bonnville explains why the survey is integral to fleet readiness.
"I took the survey, and I don't remember it even taking that long," Bonnville said. "My command said it was voluntary, but I think people should definitely do it. It helps out the fleet and could possibly even lead to preventing something from happening to Sailors in the future."
The survey can be accessed from any web-enabled computer, tablet or smartphone at www.donsapro.navy.mil/donsas.html. The password for all military participants is 2013Survey.