COPE° Project – Coasties: Thriving Together

The COPE° project Coasties Thriving Together functions as an independent action team comprised of volunteer Coast Guard veterans and serving survivors of military sexual and physical trauma. This project provides a platform for resource and information sharing and third-party external recommendations. This community of compassionate allies is dedicated to thriving, not just surviving. With core values of honor, respect, and devotion to thriving, the action team has created a vision to shape policy, identify gaps in governance and resources, call for accountability, and recommend innovation and inclusive solutions to help our own thrive after experiencing trauma.

The formation of this safe and secure platform for this community of survivors comes after CNN exposed a secret investigation into alleged sexual abuse at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that uncovered a history of rapes, assault and other serious misconduct being ignored and, at times, covered up by high-ranking officials in June of 2023. Completed in June 2019, the probe’s findings, “Operation Fouled Anchor,” had been kept confidential by Coast Guard senior leadership as the findings focused on reports of sexual assault at the Academy between 1992 to 2006. Operations Fouled Anchor was launched in 2014 when an academy graduate claimed her allegations of rape from years earlier had never been investigated. While looking into the woman’s case, agents determined her allegations, and more than two dozen other reports of misconduct had essentially been buried by academy leaders. As they continued digging, they unearthed more than 90 potential assaults from the late 1980s to 2006.

The COPE° project Coasties Thriving Together functions as an independent action team comprised of volunteer Coast Guard veterans and serving survivors of military sexual and physical trauma. This project provides a platform for resource and information sharing and third-party external recommendations. This community of compassionate allies is dedicated to thriving, not just surviving. With core values of honor, respect, and devotion to thriving, the action team has created a vision to shape policy, identify gaps in governance and resources, call for accountability, and recommend innovation and inclusive solutions to help our own thrive after experiencing trauma.

The formation of this safe and secure platform for this community of survivors comes after CNN exposed a secret investigation into alleged sexual abuse at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that uncovered a history of rapes, assault and other serious misconduct being ignored and, at times, covered up by high-ranking officials in June of 2023. Completed in June 2019, the probe’s findings, “Operation Fouled Anchor,” had been kept confidential by Coast Guard senior leadership as the findings focused on reports of sexual assault at the Academy between 1992 to 2006. Operations Fouled Anchor was launched in 2014 when an academy graduate claimed her allegations of rape from years earlier had never been investigated. While looking into the woman’s case, agents determined her allegations, and more than two dozen other reports of misconduct had essentially been buried by academy leaders. As they continued digging, they unearthed more than 90 potential assaults from the late 1980s to 2006.

What is the most concerning is the apparent lack of interest or desire in looking at any sexual assaults prior to 1992. The Leadership Team unequivocally knows sexual assault, once women entered the Academy in 1976, has been occurring, yet no one in a leadership position is willing to acknowledge the historic significance of this. It is also possible that male survivors of harassment and assault live in the shadows from the shame long before 1976 and in the years since. Furthermore, no leaders have defined this as a systematic problem. With this in mind, the team stands Always Ready to shape policy, identify gaps in governance and resources, call for accountability, and recommend innovative and inclusive solutions to help our own thrive after experiencing trauma. The Independent Action Team questions the trustworthiness and credibility of the Coast Guard, and Coast Guard Academy in fully caring for survivors of military sexual and physical trauma.

The Action Plan for Coasties will consist of four phases. Phase One consists of the team’s top interest of providing a safe, secure, and trusted site to communicate about a charged topic – sexual assault and sexual harassment, with the intentions to expand access to the site in phases, monitoring the success along the way. This phase will consist of Coast Guard Academy women and men survivors and those previously identified friends. As progress and success is monitored of Phase One, the site will be opened to others in the Coast Guard with the Team’s ultimate goal to make the site available to all Coast Guard women and men, officers and enlisted.

Phase Two currently consists of opening the actions of Phase One to current and former members of the Coast Guard. Phase Three will begin with reviewing standing minutes, reports, and other relevant documents. Interviews will be conducted as appropriate as well as identifying gaps in data, policy, resources, and inequities so that recommendations can be provided to interested parties. Phase Four works to document the historical implications and lessons learned from what is discovered during the effort. With consent, oral or written histories will be provided to be included in scholarly academic research efforts. Additionally, non-attributional statements and other important historical documents will be preserved to not lose all aspects of the important historical nature of this time in Coast Guard History.

Currently in Phase One, the Action Team is continuing to build its community of survivors. While building the community, the team is also involved in an active Congressional outreach and letter writing campaign on issues paramount to survivors. This group currently consists of officers and enlisted members from varying accession sources.

More information about this team may be found on the Coasties Thriving Together page, which includes a form for those looking to request membership. Any questions, concerns, or comments may also be submitted to COPE° through our website.

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