Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus held an All Hands call on board USS Bataan March 6 and announced the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative. Mabus said the initiative was designed to better prepare sailors, Marines and their families for military readiness. Mabus outlined five basic topics that would be the focus of current and new policies and programs.
Readiness: In addition to continuing programs for mental health and suicide prevention, there will be a renewed focus on alcohol abuse with mandatory breathalyzers in units force-wide. This policy is meant as a deterrent, not a punishment, to protect Marines and sailors from career and life-altering incidents involving alcohol.
Safety: The Department of the Navy is enhancing its prevention of sexual assault with increased education sessions for all Marines and sailors, increased sexual assault program managers and improved standards for reporting. Another focus will be on safe driving with stricter DUI standards and more intensive training for motorcycle riders.
Physical fitness: The goal is to move from a “culture of testing” to a “culture of fitness.” Waivers for body composition assessments will be removed and BCA will be required regardless of fitness test scores. Additionally, there will be an increased emphasis on nutrition in dining facilities. The Department of Navy will also launch an educational campaign on the harmful effects of smoking and provide services and products for smoking cessation. Exchanges will no longer offer discounts on smoking products in this Fiscal Year.
Inclusion: This area is focused on providing all personnel with every opportunity to succeed. A large focus of the initiative is to encourage women to make a career of the military by offering 12-month operational deferment after the birth of a child. Also, a new program is in pilot form which would allow men or women to return to service after up to three years without penalty after a hiatus to care for a child or relative while maintaining medical and Exchange privileges.
Continuum of service: The final initiative is focused on the whole life of sailors, Marines and their families. The Department of the Navy wants to equip everyone, whether one-term or career personnel, for a lifetime of success. There will be an increased support programs and benefits for those transitioning to civilian life as well as educational support while serving. Additionally, there will be continued commitment to providing Wounded Warriors with a lifetime of assistance and employment.
“For 236 years … you have upheld a proud heritage, protected our nation, projected our power, and provided freedom of the seas. In the coming years, this new strategy and our plans to execute it will ultimately depend on your skills, your talents and your well being that will assure that our Navy and Marine Corps not only perseveres but continues to prevail.” –Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus
For more information on the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative visit: http://www.navy.mil/navydata/people/secnav/Mabus/Speech/21stCenturySailor%20Marine.pdf