From the Commandant: Not in my Coast Guard

Written by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft.

Since 1973, I have been proud to call myself a member of the United States Coast Guard, serving alongside the truly extraordinary team of 88,000 active duty, reserve, civilian and auxiliary members who sustain mission excellence.

I am proud to serve in an organization that upholds our Core Values of Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty – the rock solid foundation upon which we serve our Nation.

Sexual assault and the behaviors that enable it are abhorrent to our Core Values and directly impact our ability to execute the mission.

The demands of our missions require a level of trust and respect that is violated by this terrible crime. With utmost vigilance we stand the watch, from combating transnational organized crime to fighting terrorism, to stopping human trafficking. Our duty to people demands we project this same vigilance in preventing and responding to sexual assault. We have made great strides, but we are not done yet.

In 2014, 254 sexual assaults were reported, 143 active duty members were investigated for sexual assault and an estimated 2,350 Coast Guard members were victims of harassment.

This must change.

Driving out sexual assault and enabling behaviors is not simply a box to check. Our commitment to fostering an environment where assault and harassment cannot thrive is never finished.

Your senior leadership is concentrating on three aspects of driving out sexual assault from our Service: prevention, response and accountability. We will reinforce a culture of respect inhospitable to sexual assault and the behaviors that enable it; we will continue to encourage and support sexual assault reporting and provide timely, coordinated resources to victims; we will take all reports seriously, investigate them thoroughly and analyze and share disposition trends to ensure transparency. And, we will care for those who report they have been victims and protect their rights as we protect the rights of those who are accused.

I mentioned the initiatives we are undertaking as an organization; however, cultural change really starts with the individual. It starts with you. Across every pay grade in the U.S. Coast Guard, we must make every effort together, we must be absolutely committed and we must call out behavior for what it is.

During this Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I expect each and every one of us who proudly serves our Nation to reinforce a culture of respect. We must all stand together to create an inclusive climate built upon a culture of dignity and respect. This month is not about more training, meetings or awareness campaigns – it’s about action.

Together, we will rid our Service of the scourge of sexual assault.

Not in my Coast Guard.

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7 Responses

  1. Robert M. Wolff Flotilla 24-01 says:

    Not in my Auxiliary either! As a watchstander at Station Saginaw River, I work along side some of the best. In all my dealings with them I try to impart some aspect of the core values. But for me it starts with respect for the individual, the uniform and the mission.

  2. UncleBill2 says:

    I found these statistics shocking.
    Every AD and most retired and Auxiliary Coast Guardsman I have worked with have been very professional, courteous, and respectful.

    NO ONE should be bullied, harassed, excluded, or sexually assaulted by anyone and especially by their leadership. The members I have found to be the most inappropriate have been AUX who are retired AD CG. It continues because up-chain AUX leadership allows it, covers it up, and protects the abusers. AD CG refuse to “get involved” in AUX “politics” and especially so with any retired AD CG.
    I am thrilled to see Senior CG Leadership take this stand.
    NOT IN MY COAST GUARD !

  3. MM says:

    Just as vigorous action must be taken to protect a victim, action must be taken to ensure decency towards those who are accused. It is essential for the legal system that legal rights of all be intact and persevered. For without these rights, our whole
    notion of justice is perverted.

    Not in my Coast Guard will ANY type of sexual crimes be tolerated. And not in my Coast Guard will the Constitutional Rights afforded to the accused be trampled upon. My Coast Guard is dedicated to the pursuit unbiased justice, fairness, and respect.

  4. Tim Hecht says:

    Interesting that my post from yesterday had been deleted or should I say that the Coast Guard All Hands moderator didn’t approve it
    . Too bad.

  5. Diana Honings says:

    Tim,

    Sorry about that, I just got my account fixed this morning and wasn’t able to approve comments the last few days. Thanks for following us on All Hands!

    Regards,
    PA2 Diana Honings
    Coast Guard Public Affairs

  6. chris thomson says:

    yes in your coast guard. I am writing in response to the coast guard views on sexual and physical assault. I wish to believe this viewpoint but am saddened to witness the coverup and untruthfulness of a personnel in your command. My daughter went to the coast guard in response to an incident with a 17 year E3 under your command, E3, and his two children. When she received text messages of them being hit by her son we were alarmed. When her daughter came back from the visitation and said how shw was touched in her privates..we were more than alarmed. We know now that we should not have gone to the coast guard to resolve this. It is abhorrent how the children were used to clear E3 . We told the children to be honest and tell the truth, The coast guard sent investigators who were very concerned and believed the children and forwarded their findings. The children were brought to spurwick to interview the children. The children were subjected to an intimidating situation. They were put in front of cameras and told coast guard personnel are sitting behind the mirrors to witness everything you say. For an 11 and 12 year old childyou cannot expect them to open up too much. The children reported what happened. This interviewer decided the children were coached. This was an arbitrary idea. The honesty and integrity of people should mean something. To try to protect the children this went to court and who does witness or your member, the very people we went to or help. Now these children are in harms way When the next round of abuse does occur, and it will, it will be on your hands!
    After court the children witnessed E3 mother expletive laced assault as E3 stood mutely to the side. I believe she brings E3
    frustration that he lashes out at the children, he has never visited without her there. He admitted to my daughter with us there that he did hit the children but lied in court. We am frightened to what will happen to them the next time he decides to see them. Where is justice when this E3 has no interest in the children other than to use this connection to harass his ex wife.

  7. LTJG Katie Braynard says:

    Chris,

    Thank you for the comment. We have forwarded this information on to the Coast Guard Investigative Services for their awareness, and someone will be in touch with you. The Coast Guard takes all reports of this matter seriously, and we appreciate you sharing your concerns so the Coast Guard can look into this further if necessary.

    Very Respectfully,
    Lt. j.g. Katie Braynard
    Coast Guard Public Affairs