SAPR Workshop Kicks off Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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Story Number: NNS140331-26Release Date: 3/31/2014 4:26:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Wiss, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Southeast

KINGS BAY, Ga.. (NNS) -- "Live Our Values: Step Up to Stop Sexual Assault" was the message during a U.S. Fleet Forces Command Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) workshop at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., March 26.

The SAPR workshop was a precursor to the beginning of the annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) which kicks off April 1. U.S. Fleet Forces Commander, Adm. Bill Gortney, believes if action is not taken to prevent sexual assault, it can destroy our professional values and compromise fleet readiness.

"My steadfast commitment is that I will not accept sexual assault in my Navy," said Gortney. "It has never been, and never will be acceptable to assault or harass a shipmate. Strong leadership is required to ensure that we take aggressive and sustained measures to prevent sexual assault and to provide prompt, adequate care for the victims."

The workshop provided command leaders, SAPR representatives and advocates with training, education and prevention tools to incorporate into their current sexual assault prevention and response programs.

The workshop included two sessions, the first for commanding officers, executive officers, officers in charge and command master chiefs, on leadership awareness, expectations and resources.

"The goal of this workshop is to provide leadership with available resources and provide assistance in implementing and executing sexual assault prevention and response policies at every command," said Marie Parker, U.S. Fleet Forces SAPR program manager. "We plan to build on this workshop based on the feedback received and continue our efforts to promote a cultural change in the area of sexual assault prevention through education and program implementation."

The workshop emphasized SAPR training, but combined Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention (NADAP) and suicide prevention, which are many times associated with SAPR.

According to U.S. Fleet Forces Fleet SAPR Officer, Capt. Chuck Marks, there needs to be a culture change to help prevent these destructive behaviors.

"Our most valuable resource is our Sailors - they are the most important piece of our combat system," he said. "The Sailors are also our most complex tool and they also have the most complex things we need to work on. The command needs to be thinking about that Sailor throughout their career and life, also to include what is going on in their personal life. If their personal readiness is not taken care of, it could to lead to loss of combat readiness."

The afternoon session was an all hands "Happy Hour" comedy performance presented by professional comedian Bernie McGrenahan. The powerful one-hour training program is broken up in two parts. The first part is to "hook" the audience by opening the program with a 30 minute comedy show. McGrenahan delivered hysterical material from his numerous television appearances and comedy tours which gains the trust, respect and attention of military and civilians in the audience.

The second portion of the program is the "Training and Prevention Message."

McGrenahan segues into a serious and powerful message on his personal and dangerous experiences with high-risk drinking and substance-abuse. The result for McGrenahan was poor job performance, career loss, financial instability, three DUI arrests and a six month jail sentence at 26 years of age. This coupled with his 19-year old brother's alcohol and drug-related suicide signaled him to reach out to counselors for help. He has now been drug and alcohol free for 21 years. McGrenahan's main message is to inspire troops to avoid alcohol and substance abuse to cope with stress and focus on training mission success.

"It is an honor to come out and give the audience some laughs, but most important to explain about the signs of alcohol destruction that happened in my life," McGrenahan said. "I want to help deter anybody who is having thoughts of suicide. The Navy has great command help and a lot of resources to help military member's workout and solve their problems."

NSB Kings Bay Executive Officer, Cmdr. Edward Callahan, said the performance was entertaining and a powerful message to get help for any problems you have.

"Bernie uses comedy to get the attention of the audience. Through his personal experiences, there are resources to help prevent this from happening to you," he said. "If you feel you are being overwhelmed, there is a lifeline out there, many people and resources that care about your well-being."

For more news from U.S. Fleet Forces Command, visit

News Source : SAPR Workshop Kicks off Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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