Surface Warfare Magazine
Sharing stories and news from Sailors across the U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces
"Step Up, Step In"
SURFLANT Highlights the Importance of Bystander Intervention

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (SURFLANT) Sailors participated in a series of peer-led, Bystander Intervention to the Fleet (BI2F) training sessions, which began in mid-February and concludes in early April.

"This training provides Sailors the skills to recognize potentially risky situations and take appropriate action to help shipmates avoid those destructive decisions that could have negative consequences," said Senior Chief Logistics Specialist (SW/AW/IDW) Brian O. Garfield, BI2F command facilitator.

BI2F training is required for all active duty and reserve personnel who must complete the training no later than Sept. 30, 2015. Divided into two-hour sessions, the training supports the chief of naval personnel's requirement that all hands complete this training which emphasizes the significant role every Sailor plays in the prevention of destructive behaviors.

"Bystander intervention is a very important asset that is available to all Sailors," said Quartermaster 1st Class (SW) Vera Smith, SURFLANT BI2F trainer. "Some Sailors are just unsure of how and when to intervene. I volunteered to teach the course because I believe I have a very approachable and open way of communicating that can make Sailors, especially junior Sailors, feel comfortable speaking about certain things included in the training."

To receive the information, personnel were divided into the following groups: junior level for E-1 to E-5; mid-level for E-6 to E-8; an O1 to O3 group, and one for senior level personnel, for E-9s along with O-4 and above. The groups were relatively small, with no more than 30 Sailors in each. Alongside Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuel) 3rd Class Keosha Henriquez, Smith led the junior-level training.

"It opens up a forum on issues Sailors are having; that was my biggest take-away from the training," said Air-Traffic Controller 2nd Class (AW/SW) Matthew Venon. "These are legitimate concerns which are affecting everybody. I can't think of any commands that aren't affected by these issues."

The SURFLANT BI2F course covered various subjects such as hazing, fraternization, sexual assault and harassment, by showcasing videos, role playing different scenarios and discussing personal opinions. The training highlighted different ways to "Step In and Step Up" through direct, indirect, distraction and protocol interventions.

"Bystander intervention is significant to me because, as I was coming up in the Navy, I had seen quite a few things that I wish I would have intervened in," said Smith. "Some of the things that I did intervene in, I was made to feel as though I was in the wrong, but now I know differently. I don't want another Sailor to go through the things that I went through."


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With the goal of eliminating or at least significantly reducing destructive behaviors, Rear Adm. Pete A. Gumataotao, SURFLANT commander, last year formed a Health of The Force (HoTF) Team. It takes existing programs and resources such as equal opportunity, career counseling, drug and alcohol prevention, religious ministries, sexual assault prevention and response, suicide prevention and family advocacy, and makes them as robust as possible for use across the force.

"Our HoTF initiative will utilize tools like BI2F to help shape the culture, mindsets and attitudes across our organization in order to combat destructive behaviors. It is an investment that we owe our Sailors," said SURFLANT Force Master Chief Suz Whitman.

"Bystander intervention training can be used in combating all destructive behaviors in the Navy," said Whitman. "We need to look out for each other and get to the left of destructive behaviors. Now is the time to 'Step Up and Step In.'" Surface Warfare Magazine

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