‘Too many’ U.S. Coast Guard employees feel unsafe, internal review finds after recent revelations about rapes and sexual harassment

 The U.S. Coast Guard has recently undergone an internal review prompted by reports of sexual assault and harassment within the organization. The review revealed that many members do not feel safe and that trust in leadership is diminishing. As a result, the Coast Guard is promising reforms to address these issues, aiming to put an end to a permissive environment and inappropriate behaviors and to prevent unhealthy conduct early on.

The review, which included interviews with hundreds of Coast Guard members, particularly highlighted the pain and loss of trust felt by victims of sexual assault and harassment, some dating back to the 1960s. Adm. Linda Fagan, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, ordered the review after the service faced criticism for not widely disclosing a six-year internal investigation into numerous cases of sexual assault and harassment at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy from 1988 to 2006.

Despite the release of the review, some lawmakers and critics have expressed dissatisfaction with its findings, stating that it does not hold anyone accountable for past failures, particularly those at the Coast Guard Academy. Furthermore, recent reports have emerged accusing the Coast Guard of concealing a 2015 report that exposed gender and race discrimination, hazing, and sexual assault within the service.

In response, Adm. Fagan has implemented specific actions to address improper conduct, focusing on tailored training for all personnel to promote a positive workplace climate, improved leadership courses, increased oversight of the cadet corps, enhanced bystander intervention training, and sexual assault prevention and response training for all Coast Guard personnel. Additionally, plans are in place to improve physical security at the Coast Guard Academy.

While these steps are being taken to improve the workplace climate, the Coast Guard Investigative Service is conducting further inquiries into past cases. Adm. Fagan's memo emphasizes the need for every Coast Guard workplace to have a climate that discourages harmful behaviors and promotes a safe and empowering environment.  

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