SAN DIEGO - USS Essex (LHD 2) was one of five commands awarded most SAPR pro-active command May 10 during a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate recognition ceremony held at Naval Base San Diego (NBSD).
“The Essex has amazed me since the moment I have taken over as the SARC a year and half ago,” said Kat Wager, NBSD sexual assault response coordinator. “From the leadership to the deck plate, people on the Essex know about the SAPR program.”
Wager explained some of the reasons Essex received the award, including the ship’s participation in support of NBSD’s SAPR program, its complete and diverse SAPR team, and the fact she has yet to meet an Essex Sailor who didn’t know who their victim advocates were.
Fleet and Family Support Center San Diego hosted the event and 19 NBSD commands were nominated for the award, but only five commands were recognized because they demonstrated SAPR awareness, educated their Sailors throughout the year and celebrated the spirit of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in unique ways.
“There were five commands recognized because the Fleet and Family Support Center wanted to represent all command platforms to include large, small, afloat and ashore commands,” said Wager.
Besides Essex the other commands recognized included Naval Medical Center, San Diego, Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, USS Milius (DDG 69) and Afloat Training Group San Diego.
Also recognized at the ceremony was Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Alberto Nixon of Essex’s dry-docking planned maintenance availability quality and assurance team. He received runner-up for the 2013 NBSD Victim Advocate of the Year award.
“I never once thought I would get this type of recognition for doing something like SAPR,” said Nixon. “I always do this from the heart. It means a lot and I am happy to be recognized.”
To be nominated for the Victim Advocate of the Year award a candidate must have served as a victim advocate for six months, be in compliance with the SAPR VA program training requirements, worked directly with victims of sexual assault, demonstrated compassion and respect, participated in command SAPR trainings and SAAM events as well as help broaden SAPR awareness at their command.
Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Soda Mean is Essex’s SAPR command point of contact and oversees the ship’s SAPR program as well as the ship’s 15 SAPR victim advocates.
“I am very proud of the Essex SAPR Program,” said Capt. Joker L. Jenkins, commanding officer of Essex. “I am very proud of Senior Chief Mean who runs the program and I am proud of AO1 Nixon because they have done it all on their own initiative. All of the SAPR victim advocates have been. They have been self starters and have been doing this selflessly for the good of the people and the good of the command.”
Essex is currently undergoing an 18-month maintenance phase that is scheduled to be complete in early 2014.