San Diego – Rear Adm. Sean S. Buck, Director of the 21st Century Sailor Office, visited the guided missile destroyer USS WAYNE E. MEYER (DDG 108) on 16 Jan, while the ship was underway in the Southern California operating area.
Buck flew onboard WAYNE E. MEYER as part of his “trip around the world” to talk to our Navy’s Sailors about the problems we as a Navy face today. As Director of the 21st Century Sailor, Buck is in charge of several programs including Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Equal Opportunity, Suicide Prevention, Physical Fitness and all family care programs.
“What do you bring to the fight against Sexual Assault in our Navy?” was one of Buck’s constant themes throughout the evening. “How do we better our Navy, our commands and ourselves to fight against sexual assault and its underlying causes?”
Buck had the opportunity to have dinner with the crew and then sat down with the Chiefs Mess and the wardroom. While meeting with the crew on the mess decks, Buck emphasized the importance of getting out to the fleet and getting ideas on how to strengthen our training programs on sexual assault prevention, alcohol and substance abuse prevention, suicide prevention and equal opportunity.
“It is truly an honor to see a leader who owns several diverse programs and be so well-rounded in each program,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Amanda Brady. “He knows what the sailors concerns are in each different program and is addressing those concerns throughout his trip to different commands.”
Buck said the best ideas come from young sailors in the fleet and that is where he wants to focus while making his trip to different fleet concentration areas. The crew was also very interested in the Physical Fitness Program and what changes will be seen in the future.
When sitting with the Chief’s Mess, Buck focused not only on sexual assault, but on the fitness program as well. Buck wanted to ensure the Chiefs understood the importance of physical fitness in the Navy and ensuring our Sailors are well prepared for the Physical Fitness Test. The greatest lesson Buck passed to the Chiefs Mess was to be the leaders that the junior sailors look up to and model after.
“I thought Rear Adm. Buck’s visit was very productive and helped show the Chiefs Mess, along with the crew, how the programs that are being instituted will benefit our Navy,” said Chief Petty Officer Celia Evans. “Rear Adm. Buck was able to give us a bigger picture, on a fleet perspective, of how these programs are affecting our military and decreasing accounts of sexual assault and suicide in our military.”
While meeting in the wardroom with the officers of WAYNE E. MEYER, Buck focused more on how sexual assault affects our Navy and what the officers as leaders can do to help minimize the impact. Buck acknowledged that the programs and trainings are helping to bring down sexual assault cases in the military, but sexual assault will still be present in the months to come. The Navy still needs to train and educate and “beat the drum” to continue to reduce the number sexual assault cases.
“The Admiral’s visit provoked a lot of discussion on significant programs in our Navy that are new or are currently going through transitions,” said Lt. Francisco Garza, the chief engineer onboard WAYNE E. MEYER. “His office has recently come on line and his visit was to inform at the deck plate level the programs and resources that are available and to create a dialogue to solicit input to make these resources and programs better for our Sailors.”
The WAYNE E. MEYER commanding officer, Cmdr. Randy J. Van Rossum, enjoyed the opportunity to host Buck and provide ideas that have worked for the ship. WAYNE E. MEYER hosts a SAPR roundtable every month in the wardroom with randomly selected Sailors, allowing the triad a chance to talk to Sailors about sexual assault and how they can continue to reduce the number of assaults in the Navy.
“It is critical that we have our most junior Sailors involved in helping to solve this issue,” said Van Rossum. “It keeps the topic fresh in our minds and sets expectations of the involvement required.”
Buck’s “deployment around the world” is setting the tone for the Navy. He is reaching out to commands and fleet concentration areas to talk to the Sailors face-to-face and get their opinions on how to improve training and rid the Navy of sexual assault.
“The solutions lie in the fleet and with the fleet teams,” stated Buck, emphasizing the need for Sailors to be the driving force behind these changes and ensuring the fleet is properly informed and trained.
WAYNE E. MEYER was named after the late Rear Adm. Wayne E. Meyer, who is regarded as the "Father of AEGIS" for his service as the AEGIS Weapons System Manager and later his development of the AEGIS Shipbuilding Project Office.
WAYNE E. MEYER is completing her pre-deployment integrated phase preparations gearing up for a 2014 deployment to the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.