Editor’s note: The Commandant’s video message below can be viewed directly on the Coast Guard’s official YouTube channel.
Posted on behalf of Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Zukunft .
To our Coast Guard men and women,
Sexual assault is a crime. Sexual assault is inconsistent with our Core Values and degrades mission readiness. Sexual assault is abhorrent to our Service culture.
Last year, I met with a sexual assault survivor who had been victimized eight years ago and had the courage to stand before Coast Guard leaders to tell her story. And, what her story really came down to was an overwhelming sense of betrayal. The Coast Guard and her shipmates had tragically let her down.
As you know, Duty to People is a guiding principle in my Commandant’s Direction. Duty to People requires an unwavering commitment to the citizens we serve and those who serve beside us – the 88,000 extraordinary men and women that make up our active, reserve, civilian and auxiliary workforce. The foundation upon which Duty to People stands is the Coast Guard’s Core Values. In our professional learning continuum, we can accept some mistakes as important teachable moments. However, there is a bright line and a clear distinction between learning from mistakes and failing in our Core Values. There is no room for error, whatsoever, when it comes to upholding our Core Values. Honor, respect and devotion to duty are conditions of service.
Sexual assault is a breach of our Core Values. There is no place for this crime in our Coast Guard. Further, this crime severely compromises our mission readiness. The demands of our missions require a level of trust and teamwork that cannot coexist with the betrayal of sexual assault. We have made great strides to prevent, respond and hold others accountable when it comes to sexual assault. But, we are not done yet. Our culture needs to change – to become inhospitable to sexual assault and the behaviors that enable it – like ostracizing, hazing and harassing.
We all have a duty and responsibility to call out sexual assault and sexual harassment for what it is and hold individuals accountable when they commit these acts so we can drive this scourge from our Service. Every member of the Coast Guard is empowered and directed to stand up to sexual assault, sexual harassment and predatory actions. Every leader is directed to personally make their command climate inhospitable to these crimes. We answer to a higher calling. We serve to a higher standard.
We all must stand together in saying “Not in my Coast Guard.” Semper Paratus.