The month of April is designated Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and throughout the month Coast Guard Compass will highlight first-person accounts from men and women of the Coast Guard who are taking a stand against the crime of sexual assault. This week’s account comes from Petty Officer 1st Class Monica Speece, a company commander at Training Center Cape May. While her message is to the Coast Guard’s newest recruits, her passion to live by our core values resonates with us all.
Written by Petty Officer 1st Class Monica Speece.
Our core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty define who we are as the United States Coast Guard. A company commander’s primary mission in recruit training is to instill these values in the hearts and minds of every recruit along their journey to becoming a Coast Guardsman. Sexual assault is incompatible with our core values and, therefore, who we are as Coast Guardsmen. It is my goal to foster a culture of prevention, awareness and accountability in every recruit entrusted to my care. At the very root of this goal are our core values. Here’s my definition of how each one applies to sexual assault prevention.
HONOR – Your behavior is a direct reflection of yourself, your unit and the Coast Guard. You shall not act in a manner that will bring discredit to any of the aforementioned. Sexual assault is a predatory act by people of the lowest morals and standards. We are a select few charged with protecting, defending, saving and shielding the American people which is a responsibility that should not be held by someone without honor. This core value also defines our personal accountability and our accountability to our shipmates. We are all responsible for preventing and responding to sexual assault. Honor requires you to say something to protect our shipmates, uphold our laws and live our core values. Do not allow anyone to compromise your integrity. There are no bystanders in this organization. Honor requires us all to be accountable to ourselves, each other and our nation.
RESPECT – Respect yourself and your shipmates! Treat others in the manner you wish to be treated. Do not allow anyone to take advantage of you or your shipmates. Respect is the basis for all interactions with each other and the American people. Sexual assault is completely contradictory to the respect we owe our fellow servicemembers. Predatory behavior demonstrates a complete lack of respect for fellow human beings and is incompatible with service in our Coast Guard. Tolerating this behavior also completely disregards respect. We will stand up together to prevent and respond to sexual assault. Whether in surf and storm, the battlefield or on liberty, we will do whatever it takes to protect each other from harm. Sexual assault is an enemy that we must all fight every day by fostering awareness, proactively seeking to help victims and hunting down predators wherever they may lurk. Respect your shipmates by seeking support for them if you suspect they’ve been a victim, intervene if you suspect sexual assault has occurred and educate yourself on sexual assault prevention and response regularly.
DEVOTION to DUTY – We cannot effectively carryout our missions if our people are not 100 percent mission ready. If you or your shipmates do not feel safe in their workplace, the mission cannot be completed. Sexual assault is a cancer that erodes our mission readiness. It violates the oath we took to uphold the Constitution of the United States and protect, defend, save and shield the American people. Devotion to duty requires us to eliminate sexual assault from our service in order to better serve the people who entrust us with their safety.
The fact that sexual assault has taken place in my Coast Guard is unacceptable. Not only is it my job to train the newest members of our organization, it is also my responsibility to ensure my shipmates take care of each other. I am committed to fostering a training environment that instills our core values in future Coast Guardsmen. By aligning our personal values with that of the Coast Guard’s core values we can ensure we carry ourselves with pride and protect each other from predators. We should be Semper Paratus in our missions, in our lives and in our effort to prevent and respond to sexual assault.
This is my Coast Guard. These are my shipmates. These are my core values. We will not stop until there is no sexual assault in our service.