Our Duty to People: Building a culture of respect

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft meets with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Camille Nichols, director of the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, and U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Erica Schwartz, director of Health, Safety and Work-Life. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft meets with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Camille Nichols, director of the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, and U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Erica Schwartz, director of Health, Safety and Work-Life. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Written by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft.

Each year, the Coast Guard joins in the national recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Over the past several years, we have developed a deeper understanding of what it means to stand up to sexual assault and say, “Not in my Coast Guard!

As we continue our effort to drive sexual assault out of the Coast Guard, we must focus on building a culture of respect. Sexual assault is enabled by a series of behaviors inconsistent with both our Core Values and unit readiness. Bullying, hazing and harassment are behaviors that can also be indicators of a command climate in which trust is lost – trust in each other and trust in the chain of command. Sexual assault is a breach of trust that must be driven from the Coast Guard forever.

When we witness bullying, hazing or harassment, every one of us must think “Not in my Coast Guard” and report the behavior to the chain of command. In building a culture of respect, there are other resources you can reach out to including a local victim advocate, your regional sexual assault response coordinator, your regional civil rights service provider or a chaplain.

By having the courage to say “Not in my Coast Guard,” you are demonstrating your Duty to People. You are doing your part to build and maintain a culture of respect at your unit and your Coast Guard.

Living our Core Values of Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty is how we will rid our Service of sexual assault.

Editor’s note: for more information and resources, visit the sites for the Victim Advocate programSexual Assault Response Coordinators and Civil Rights Service Providers.

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