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Denim Day: SSP Raises Awareness for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

24 April 2024

From Shelby Thompson

WASHINGTON NAVY YARD – Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) participated in Denim Day to raise awareness and promote prevention of sexual violence and support survivors of sexual assault and harassment Wednesday.
“Denim Day is a visible reminder that we are all in this together,” said Vice Adm. Johnny R. Wolfe, Jr, Director Strategic Systems Programs.

“We all have the responsibility to create an environment that makes everyone better.”

Denim Day originated in 1999 after the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction, stating that the victim’s attire when she was attacked – denim jeans – implied consent. The following day, women in the Italian Parliament stood in solidarity with the victim, and with victims around the globe, by wearing denim in protest of the ruling.

Since then, wearing denim on the last Wednesday in April has continued to put the spotlight on the need to support victims of sexual assault and to challenge the underlying behaviors behind sexual violence in our society.

Yeoman Chief Petty Officer Christina Rodriguez spearheaded SSP’s first Denim Day and hopes it will serve as a unifying event within the workforce.

“Everyone wearing denim today is something that brings the command together for a day and promotes unit cohesion and support,” she said.
“Denim Day lets us talk about a topic that can feel taboo and makes survivors feel more welcome to talk about their experiences. This is a way to have healthy conversations.”

Denim Days are observed throughout the services, and are a key part of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) observed annually in April. In addition to this day of community engagement, the Navy is progressing with its own reforms to support survivors of sexual assault and harassment.
In February, the Navy rolled out a NAVADMIN which implements a new confidential reporting option for service members who experience sexual harassment. Under this new reporting option, service members can report sexual assault or harassment without identifying the person who committed the acts, and will be able to access resources, counseling, and medical care through their Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Office.
The new NAVADMIN builds on the Navy’s No Wrong Door Policy for victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and domestic abuse that was implemented in 2022. The No Wrong Door Policy guarantees that a victim who contacts a professional from any Department of the Navy victim care and support offices, must receive services from that office or receive a “warm hand-off” to an appropriate service provider. The warm hand-off must be done in-person or virtually, and must be properly documented. At each installation, the leads of all offices responsible for the care of victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and domestic abuse meet monthly to confirm the hand-offs, review lessons learned, and identify challenges and opportunities to improve support.

The Navy’s focus on sexual assault, sexual harassment, and domestic abuse prevention and support to survivors is a welcome sign of progress from advocates, but is tempered by the knowledge there is always more work to do.
“Sexual assault does not care who you are – military or civilian, it affects us all,” said Shauna Biles, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for Washington Navy Yard.
“The Navy’s stance is zero-tolerance for sexual assault, but that is not enough. We must be anti-sexual assault. We must do more than words – we must take action and this is the way.”
At its core, Denim Day reminds us that we all have a role in combatting sexual assault, and it takes buy-in from a community to effect lasting change. This year, the SSP community showed up to support survivors with events at SSP headquarters and at various field activities including Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic, Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Kings Bay, Georgia, and Naval Ordnance Test Unit, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Wolfe was proud that field activities and SSP HQ pulled together for a cause that strengthens the Navy team.

 “Our field activities supporting Denim Day shows that we have a common stance on how we expect our people to respect each other,” said Wolfe.

“It’s never just about SSP HQ. We need our entire organization to succeed in order for us to truly be successful.”

SSP is the Navy command that provides cradle-to-grave lifecycle support for the sea-based leg of the nation’s nuclear triad. This includes training, systems, equipment, facilities and personnel responsible for ensuring the safety, security, and effectiveness of the nation’s Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) Trident II (D5LE) Strategic Weapon System.
The Washington Navy Yard SAPR office provides 24/7 sexual assault response capability to base members. It serves as the single point of contact for integrating and coordinating sexual assault victim and survivor care.
Washington Navy Yard 24/7 SAPR Response Helpline: 202-258-6717
The Department of Defenses’ Safe Helpline, 877-995-5247, or, is a 24/7 anonymous, confidential hotline, with one-on-one peer support, information and resources for members of the DoD and their loved ones affected by sexual assault.

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