News: Coast Guard dresses up to stand up to sexual assault
Story by Chief Warrant Officer Donnie Brzuska
CAPE MAY, N.J. – Coast Guard members at Training Center Cape May, N.J., wore their service dress blue uniforms to raise awareness and facilitate discussion about sexual assault in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month Wednesday.
Service Dress Blue Day, as the Coast Guard calls it, is aimed at attracting attention and facilitating discussions about sexual assault prevention awareness. Training Center Cape May is also undergoing several other initiatives including a sexual assault prevention stand down when base operations will cease, and Coast Guardsmen will have facilitated and interactive discussions about sexual assault.
“Because we forge more than 80 percent of the Coast Guard’s entire workforce, Training Center Cape May sets the standard for sexual assault prevention in our service,” said Capt. Todd Prestidge, commanding officer of Training Center Cape May. “We pride ourselves on developing a workforce that is free from bystanders and intolerant of sexual assault.”
Training Center Cape May has taken significant steps to eliminate sexual assault in the service. This includes not only increasing formal sexual assault training at the unit, but the crew has also increased more informal interactions with chaplains, sexual assault response coordinators, victim advocates, and senior officers and chiefs about the topic of sexual assault. These informal interactions are aimed at instilling trust in the Coast Guard sexual assault reporting system and empowering future Coast Guardsmen to stand up against sexual assault if they are ever confronted with it.
“The purpose of the Coast Guard’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program is to eliminate sexual assault within the Coast Guard by ensuring a culture of prevention, education, victim support and accountability,” said Prestidge. “This is our Coast Guard, and there is no place for sexual assault here.”
Those Coast Guardsmen and civilian employees who couldn’t wear the service dress blue uniform wore teal ribbons or blue shirts in honor of the event when it was appropriate.
For more information about the Coast Guard Sexual Prevention and Response Program, please visit http://www.uscg.mil/worklife/rape_sexual_assault.asp.