NORFOLK--Navy commands in Hampton Roads will take part in a sexual assault stand-down Thursday.

A Pentagon study found that there may have been as many as 26,000 sexual assaults in the military in 2012. That's up from 19,000 in 2011.

All commands began the sexual assault prevention and response (SAPR) stand-down on Monday, June 10; reservists and deployed personnel will have until July 22 to complete the stand down.

The commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief of each command will lead Sailors and Navy civilian personnel in a minimum two hours of focused facilitated instruction on SAPR principles and the importance of fostering a climate of dignity and respect in the workplace.

'All personnel will understand their accountability and role in reducing with a goal of eliminating sexual assault from the Navy, fostering a command climate of dignity and respect, and upholding our core values of honor, courage and commitment,' said Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, Chief of Naval Personnel.

Military leaders said sexual assault in the ranks is 'like a cancer' that could destroy the force, but they rejected far-reaching congressional efforts to strip commanders of some authority in meting out justice.

The Navy says it will submit a completion report to the Secretary of Defense by July 17.

Several bills are being considered in Congress right now that would overhaul the military justice system.

Click here for more information on the Navy's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program.

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