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My Coast Guard
Commentary | June 18, 2024

Coast Guard answers questions the workforce may have after the Commandant’s recent testimony

By MyCG Staff

On June 11th, the Commandant of the Coast Guard testified at a hearing before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in the United States Senate. Given the scope of the issues discussed in the hearing, a few items would benefit from further clarity. The article below provides some key information to answer questions you may have about the Coast Guard’s actions and policies discussed at the hearing.   

Commandant’s Directed Actions

Through the Commandant’s Directed Actions issued this past November, Coast Guard leadership is keenly focused on moving the Service forward and providing the workplace climate that all of our members expect and deserve. A workplace intolerant of harm. Of the Commandant’s 33 directed actions following the Accountability and Transparency Review, nearly half have already been completed.

Vice Admiral Peter Gautier and Deputy Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Jahmal Pereira recently shared an update on the completed actions, and those still in development. Here are some highlights:

  • The Safe to Report policy ensures victims and bystanders who report sexual assaults will not be punished for minor collateral misconduct. This policy eliminates a significant barrier to reporting.
  • Those who are found to have committed sexual assault or harassment are now mandatorily processed for separation with no higher than a “general” discharge.
  • Policy regarding Retired Grade Determinations (RGD) was updated to clarify authority to reopen a RGD after an officer’s retirement. The new policy lists factors that trigger an RGD. Substantiated instances of sexual assault or harassment are one of the factors that can trigger an RGD.
  • All members of senior leadership participated in a Strengthening Service Culture Summit to understand the neuroscience of trauma and hear from victims.
  • Victims may now be present or provide a statement during administrative separation proceedings related their Sexual Assault or Sexual Harassment (SA/SH).
  • Numerous updates to SA/SH reporting and the Coast Guard cadet conduct system have been made at the Coast Guard Academy.

These actions are critical steps in the Coast Guard’s continuing campaign to strengthen our culture, become intolerant of harmful behaviors, and ensure accountability and transparency. The following key points provide additional detail regarding the Coast Guard’s ongoing commitment to supporting victims and ensuring conclusive investigations.

Ensuring Victim Support

We will ensure that every victim receives the support they need and deserve.

  • CG Form 6095, entitled “Victim Reporting Preference Statement” is the form that allows a victim to elect whether to make a restricted or unrestricted report.
  • This form is not required by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to make a claim of Military Sexual Trauma (MST). The VA accepts documentation of many kinds when asking an applicant to demonstrate that they have been a victim of MST. The CG-6095 is one document that may be submitted as part of the information necessary to establish that the applicant is entitled to MST care.
  • Coast Guard members who wish to file a CG-6095 or get a copy of their previously issued CG-6095 may do so by reaching out to their servicing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) or Victim Advocate Program Specialist (VAPS). Former Coast Guard members may also contact a local SARC or VAPS for assistance.
  • Victims do not need to have reported MST at the time the incident occurred, have a CG-6095, or have other proof that the incident occurred to request care from the VA.
  • As the DHS OIG continues its investigation, victims do not have to wait for the conclusion of the investigation to get a CG-6095 if they previously made a report and did not receive the form. To request the form, victims can contact their local SARC and VAPS.
  • There is no need to discuss or disclose the MST experience when registering with Department of Veterans Affairs. Just ask to meet with a VA health care professional for a clinical evaluation.
  • MST-related services are available for most veterans, including those who received an Other Than Honorable discharge or served for fewer than two years. Standard length of service requirements do not apply to eligibility for MST-related care, and some individuals may be able to receive MST-related care even if they are not eligible for other VA care. Service connection (that is, a VA disability rating) is not needed.
  • All Area command cutters, 225 WLMs, and CGC Mackinaw are required to have at least one trained, credentialed, and appointed volunteer Victim Advocate aboard when deployed.
  • National Security Cutters and Polar Security Cutters, and CGC Eagle (when deployed with trainees), must have two trained, credentialed, and appointed volunteer Victim Advocates aboard when deployed.
  • Commands with more than 20 assigned personnel in a Tricare Prime Remote Service Area must have at least one trained, credentialed, and appointed volunteer Victim Advocate.
  • Members of the command cadre cannot serve as Victim Advocates. If a command is unable to meet the requirements above, they are required to notify their superior in the chain, but they do not then by default become the Victim Advocate.

DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Investigation

Independent review of Operation Fouled Anchor (OFA) and allegations of sexual assault is critical to ensure full accountability.

  • The DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is investigating the CG’s handling of Operation Fouled Anchor (OFA), including the issue of nondisclosure of OFA to Congress and whether any law or policy was broken. The current DHS OIG investigation into OFA was requested by Congress. The Coast Guard has been fully cooperating with the OIG by providing the information requested.
  • The Coast Guard is prohibited from taking action that would interfere with the DHS OIG’s investigation, which includes initiating our own internal investigation.
  • The Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) continues to investigate all criminal allegations of sexual misconduct  that are not part of Operation Fouled Anchor, and is closely coordinating with the DHS OIG in order to deconflict any overlap between the investigations.
  • The DHS OIG will make the ultimate determination on release and distribution of its final report, including whether to share with the Coast Guard. As such, the Coast Guard does not control who the report will be shared with.
  • Part of the DHS OIG investigation is to determine whether any law or policies were broken. Until that report is released, the Coast Guard cannot make independent determinations as to whether criminal misconduct occurred.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Records Requests

Records requests are subject to a number of federal laws and policies to ensure the due process and privacy that all of our members are entitled to.

  • The Coast Guard processes requests for information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act of 1974. The Coast Guard must follow these laws when responding to requests for information from victims and others.
  • Victims can receive their own personnel records at any time. These records won’t be redacted.
  • When a victim of sexual assault asks for administrative or criminal investigative records pertaining to their case, after the case is closed and adjudication is final, they are generally able to receive the records through the FOIA and Privacy Act request process. The records will likely contain some level of redaction, consistent with Privacy Act exemptions and to protect the privacy interests of others named in the records.
  • The vast majority of the redactions made to the documents provided to Congress were to protect personal privacy of individuals, including those named in CGIS reports. These are law enforcement records, so they contain graphic details of sexual assault and other crimes. They also contain names of victims, witnesses, agents, and subjects against whom allegations were not substantiated. There are also details related to medical treatment, mental health conditions, and other personal matters.

Resources for Victims of Sexual Assault or Sexual Harassment

  • The DoD Safe Helpline Chat Room offers a safe space for victims and serves as a resource for healing.
  • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides free treatment for any physical or mental health conditions related to experiences of Military Sexual Trauma (MST).
  • Restricted or unrestricted reports can be made to a SARC, VAPS, VVA and healthcare professionals, and they can help you connect with support services. You can find your local SARC and VAPS here.
  • Unrestricted reports can also be made to anyone in a member’s chain of command or directly to CGIS. Contact info for CGIS regional offices can be found here, or you can call (202) 372-3000. You can also submit a report online.


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