News: Soldiers focus on preventing sexual harassment, assault
Story by Staff Sgt. Christopher McCullough
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Soldiers with 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, held a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention stand-down day April 29 that focused on preventing sexual harassment and assault.
"A stand-down day is basically when we're going to stop the mission and focus on the SHARP program for that entire day," said Sgt. 1st Class David Peppler, a SHARP victim advocate for 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3-2 SBCT. "It will bring back the Soldier's grasp of 'this is a real important issue in the Army; this is something we can take care of; we don't have to worry about what's going on here with our job, we can focus on SHARP.'"
SHARP has continued to be a hot-button issue in the U.S. Army in recent years.
This SHARP stand-down day was part of the larger Sexual Assault Awareness Month that is recognized by the Army annually in the month of April.
"We have training throughout the month across the installation," said Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Ventura, the "Arrowhead" Brigade senior victim advocate.
This training was scenario-based and was designed to help service members respond appropriately if they see the precursors of sexual harassment or assault occurring.
Ventura said that this year they decided to try something a little different in order to convey the importance of SHARP.
"We (normally) started off this training with a three-hour long power point presentation," he said.
Ventura said that wasn’t catching the attention of a lot of Soldiers, so they redesigned the curriculum and inserted movies and spots that the highlighted different ways to deal with sexual harassment and assault.
"We're trying build this culture change to where it's like muscle memory," Ventura explained. He goes on to say that the training is designed to empower Soldiers to intervene if someone is being sexually harassed. "Let's stop it here before it becomes something more."
More information about the Army’s SHARP program is available at http://www.sexualassault.army.mil/index.cfm. Additional information can found at the Department of Defense Safe Helpline – Sexual Assault Support website, located at http://www.safehelpline.org//