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    SAPR: Ike Sailors Take A Stand

    Sexual assault is a criminal act. The Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program is designed to deter this act and provide a support system for victims. Through this program Sailors all over the fleet have volunteered as SAPR Victim Advocates (VA), providing victims with the help and resources they need.
    Advocates can be found aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and are available to SAPR victims whenever and wherever.
    “The SAPR VA program is a vital tool that’s needed throughout the Navy,” said Logistics Specialist Seaman Jacob D. Cooper, an Ike SAPR VA. “This program really means a lot to me. I want to help as much as I can, especially when there are Sailors out there who feel alone or stuck in a corner.”
    Cooper said he became a SAPR VA to fight for those who may be afraid to speak up.
    “I push to fight for justice for the unheard,” said Cooper. “I was told that I probably couldn’t be a SAPR VA because I’m an E-3, but that only motivated me. My rank makes me more approachable for junior Sailors who may be afraid to go talk to a senior enlisted Sailor about what happened.”
    There is no restriction on who can apply to be a VA. They come from all rates, ranks and backgrounds with the common goal of maintaining a workplace environment that rejects sexual assault and reinforces prevention, response and accountability.
    “The SAPR community is a great team,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Aircraft Handling) 2nd Class Chiquita Parrish, an Ike SAPR VA. “They’re all very trustworthy. It’s important to maintain that trust as the SAPR program is about helping Sailors in need who may be in a dark place and being someone they’re comfortable sharing their story with is essential.”
    Once a case is received, Ike’s VAs meet to assess and volunteer for cases based on compatibility.
    “We all sit down to discuss and decide who would be best to help the victim,” said Cooper. “A lot of VAs always want to step up and take on cases knowing it’s all very personal.”
    Once a VA is assigned to a Sailor, confidentiality becomes the foundation of their relationship as the VA assists the victim with making an informed decision on whether they want a restricted or unrestricted report.
    Victims of sexual assault who wish to confidentially disclose the crime to specifically identified individuals without triggering the official investigative process or notification to command can file a restricted report. Sailors who report under this policy may report to the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), a SAPR VA or healthcare providers and personnel. However, victims who desire an official investigation and command notification in addition to healthcare, victim advocacy and legal services can file an unrestricted report, and can also report to law enforcement or their chain of command.
    VAs provide victims more than with information; they’re also there to help them through the healing process however long it takes, sometimes staying in contact for years after an incident.
    “It’s important for Sailors to know they have a safe outlet during recovery,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Aircraft Handling) 1st Class Jeffrey Vernocke, an Ike SAPR VA. “We are here for them. Victims need to know that they are not alone nor do they have to be.”
    Not just anyone is qualified to take on this responsibility. In order to become a SAPR VA, Sailors must undergo a 40-hour basic training course that covers a spectrum of services available to sexual assault victims, including the roles and responsibilities of SAPR personnel, confidentiality policy, reporting options and more.
    “Let’s say someone was hurt aboard this ship,” said Cooper. “They’re not going to want to come to the ship and go to work every day, because they’re not going to feel safe. They’re always going to be looking over their shoulder and that’s not okay. I want to reach out to the people who are being quiet or staying in the dark. I urge you to come forward. We will not rest until you get the help you need, but you have to take that first step and reach out to us.”



    Date Taken: 05.02.2019
    Date Posted: 05.06.2019 08:07
    Story ID: 320833
    Location: ATLANTIC OCEAN

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    SAPR: Ike Sailors Take A Stand