Friday, April 25, 2014

Celebrating the Month of the Military Child and How Our Children Serve


My wife, Sissy Cutchen, wrote this blog in honor of "The Month of the Military Child."  I'm sure it will speak to many of you and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Regards, Clutch

When my husband and I attended a Returning Warrior Weekend the feedback included this comment, “Why didn’t you let your wife speak?” Consequently I am honored and touched to be his guest blogger. I am especially pleased to blog during the Month of the Military Child, as I consider the issues surrounding military children one of my greatest concerns and my success as a military mom my crowning achievement.

Very early in my life as a Navy spouse, at every dining out I would say, “Bryan, ask Mr. Vice if I can make a toast.” My toast would always be the same, “To our children who serve without a choice and without a voice!” In those days, I would sometimes be approached by an officer who took exception to what I said. They would want to point out my children were “not serving.”

In 2005-2007 Peter Pace was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, I wrote him about our children’s service. He wrote me back, and for the first time, I actually found someone who agreed with my opinion. He also was one of the first senior military officers to express awareness that military children also serve.

While 2007 was only 7 years ago; the idea we recognize our children’s service is a new one. We have come a long way since the culture of military life portrayed in movies like “The Great Santini.” A time when many military children lived in a world of “suck it up” and “attention on deck.”  Telling our children, “Thank you for your service” is a progressive change in culture. I propose that we can do even better than a “thank you.” For many children I don’t think “Thank you for your service” is meaningful. It doesn’t change how they feel about themselves. It doesn’t make them feel rewarded. They move into too many new houses, they eat lunch alone at too many new schools, and they say good-bye to too many good friends for just a “thank you.” In actuality, their sacrifices are supporting a career that is someone else’s goal.  However, that career is inspired by those very children. It is inspired to keep them safe, to provide a strong nation, and a bright future. 

So, this is what worked for our family. Every morning I told my children, “At least you can know you are serving your country.” And we didn’t just acknowledge their sacrifice; we reminded them, their service inspired us to serve. In many different ways we let them know they played a role. When my husband got a medal, sometimes he would give the kids a medal too. In these small ways our children were moved to feel a spirit of service. 

So, I am advocating for a progression in our awareness and expression of our military children’s experience. I am advocating for the message of “Thank You for your service” to evolve. Yes, I want us to be thankful, but I want us to start telling the world “Our military children inspire our service” and to start telling our children “You inspire me to serve my country.” I for one would rather be told I inspired something, than to be thanked. A young person who can inspire someone, and consequently, can be inspired, is on their way to being an awesome citizen.

Just a blog thought from the Admiral’s other half, and the mother of Ensign Max Cutchen and Petty Officer Annie Cutchen.

-Sissy Cutchen Navy wife, Navy Mom, Navy sister

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How the Navy Reserve's Sexual Assault Prevention Officer Works for You

Greetings Shipmates,

Please take the time to read this month's blog, guest written by Cmdr. Jean Steenson, RESFOR Sexual Assault Prevention Officer, on the role of the Force SAPRO. It's an important job and I hope you will find it informative and helpful.


How the Navy Reserve's Sexual Assault Prevention Officer works for youBy Cmdr. Jean Steenson, RESFOR SAPRO

I think we all have heard of the acronym SAPR, but have you heard of SAPRO? My name is Cmdr Jean Steenson and I am the RESFOR SAPRO (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Officer). I am responsible for the Force SAPR Program and ensure it complies with DoD policy, tracking, and training. But most importantly, I'm responsible for the safety and well-being of our Sailors who fall victim to crimes of sexual assault and for ensuring the Navy Reserve Force is doing everything it can to prevent these assaults from happening.

That means a victim of sexual assault can report (unrestricted) an incident and know that every stage from the initial report through investigation, and if substantiated, the judicial process will be handled properly and expeditiously. This goes for both the victim and the alleged offender to make sure all rights are protected and due process is served. 

 For Reserve Sailors, I personally track every stage and guarantee that every report (no matter the duty status of a SELRES) is briefed at the Flag level. While briefing the Flag(s), we talk about victim's safety, alleged offender's rights, command climate, destructive behaviors, and most importantly, we discuss victim care. In addition, I work to ensure procedures are in place to maintain the anonymity of a victim filing a restricted report.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and Commander Navy Installations Command (CNIC) has compiled over 800 activities that are being hosted CONUS and OCONUS, so no excuses, get involved. Every RCC, NOSC, and squadron is sponsoring SAAM events, so look for those this month. This year's theme is: "Live Our Values" every day, all year long. Do the right thing by intervening when appropriate, reporting crimes, and supporting victims. If we do, we can help stop sexual assaults.

Lastly, please take the time to learn who the Victim Advocate is at your NOSC, squadron or command and thank them. They have volunteered to take on an difficult job, and greatly deserve your appreciation.

CDR Jean Steenson