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Spotlighting Sexual Assault Awareness And Prevention

22 April 2024

From Anna Marie G. Gonzales, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - When sexual assault occurs, an entire command is affected. That’s why every April, military communities across the world call attention to the prevalence of sexual violence and educate its members on how to prevent it.
At Navy Region Hawaii, Capt. Jessica Beard leads the charge to raise awareness about this critical issue.

“It is important that leadership show how committed they are to ensuring every member of the team, both active duty and civilian, is valued and respected and that sexual violence will not be tolerated at any level,” said Beard, who serves as the region’s sexual assault awareness and prevention officer (SAPRO).

This year’s theme is “STEP FORWARD. Prevent. Report. Advocate.” This is a call to action for military and civilian individuals at all levels to use their personal strength to bolster prevention, increase reporting, and promote advocacy for a safer Department of Defense (DoD) community.

Last year, more than 2,000 reports of sexual assault were made in the Navy and 600 cases were Sailor-on-Sailor allegations, according to the Navy Culture and Force Resilience Office. The likelihood of sexual assault increases significantly when a command, department, division, shop or work center has a history of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, workplace hostility, a lack of respect, poor unit cohesion, and/or disengaged leadership.

Beard’s goal is for everyone to know what sexual assault is, how it hurts the Navy, how to play a role in prevention and how to report it.

To kick off Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, Rear Adm. Stephen Barnett, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Col. Michele Lo Bianco, 15th Wing commander, signed a proclamation urging everyone to do their part to prevent sexual assault.

“Awareness is more than just acknowledging that sexual assault affects our community,” said Barnett. “Instead, we should try to understand the issue and its impact on victims and their families, both at home and at work. Therefore, we need to familiarize ourselves with the resources available.”

As the region SAPRO, Beard’s role is to advise the region commander on all things related to the sexual assault awareness and prevention program, including preparing reports with data and trends for sexual assault cases, ensuring the command is aware of all updates, changes, and modifications of the program, and ensuring the instructions are aligned with Commander Navy Installations Command, Office of Chief of Naval Operations, Defense Health Agency, DoD, and Secretary of Defense.

Beard’s passion for healthcare prepared her well for her SAPRO duties. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1996 through the Navy Medical Enlisted Commissioning program. In 2007, she was selected to go to duty under instructions, or DUINS, a program that provides officers with fully-funded training to complete a qualifying degree.

Beard pursued a degree in midwifery. She earned her master’s degree in nursing and certification as a certified nurse midwife in 2007, and a doctoral degree in May 2023.

“Women’s health has always been a passion of mine. In fact, when I retire, I plan to open a women and children’s clinic in an underprivileged community. It’s important to me that women are equipped with the knowledge and resources to take care of themselves.”

Beard has served in the Navy for more than 35 years and has been involved with the SAPR program for 30 years.

“Beginning as an enlisted Sailor, I was a SAPR victim’s advocate. Once I became an officer, I was trained as a sexual assault response coordinator from 1997-2007 until I became a certified nurse midwife,” she explained.

In 2010, Beard was selected as the sexual assault medical forensic examiner program director.

“It is extremely important that everyone knows prevention of sexual assault violence is 24/7/365 cause, and it will take all of us to be proactive versus reactive to defeat it,” Beard said.

If you are the victim of sexual assault or know of someone who has been assaulted, call (808) 722-6192 for immediate crisis intervention and access to confidential resources.

Support and assistance are also available through the DoD Safe Helpline at (877) 995-5247. For more information, contact Capt. Jessica Beard at or (808) 220-5439.

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