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    SHARP skit presents war on sexual assault

    SHARP skit presents war on sexual assault

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Meillettis Patton | Brig. Gen. William Hickman address soldiers in Bayou Theater on April 19, after a skit...... read more read more

    FORT POLK , LA, UNITED STATES

    04.19.2013

    Story by Staff Sgt. Meillettis Patton 

    1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

    Fort Polk, La. – The stage was set to have a good time. Dimmed lights and music filled the room, just the right environment to dance and relax after a long work week. Hanging out with friends and co-worker’s can ease tension from a field exercise or simply a long day. Bayou Theater is transformed into club “Boom, Boom” the social hang out spot and everyone dressed for the occasion. Members of the opposite sex wore heels and skirts, to kicks and button down shirts, to cut loose at club “Boom, Boom”. The night can lead to so many possibilities…

    Many soldiers throughout the 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade joined together to perform a skit on April 16, and 19, at the Bayou Theater to kick-off post-wide training for National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).

    National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is an annual campaign to raise public awareness and educate communities on the prevention of sexual assault. As a public health, human rights and social justice issue, sexual assault affects many and has secondary effects on our society. During the month of April, state, territory, tribal and community-based organizations, rape crisis centers, government agencies, businesses and campuses recognize SAAM through planned events and activities to reinforce prevention efforts.

    “A play or skit version is beneficial”, said Command Sgt. Maj. Melvin Rutledge, command sergeant major of 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. “Young soldiers in today's Army relate to a realistic training environment oppose to sitting though a lecture or discussion”.

    The scene was set from the time the Soldiers walked through the doors. As soldiers entered Bayou Theatre they were treated like club goers. Bouncers (enacted by soldiers) used metal detecting equipment to set the tone for the upcoming performance.

    The first scene would come as an act of aggression and show a side that is not often seen or imagined. A young male soldier is aggressively pursued by a lady and his drink spiked with a date rape drug. The female perpetrator would later have her way with him. This scene helps you understand that sexual assault is not gender specific.

    “Most males don’t think it could ever happen to them, it can and it will,” said Sgt. Timothy Zannotti of Headquarter and Headquarters Company, 1st MEB.“I was very uncomfortable playing this role.

    Prevention is key to protection; the message rang loud and clear. The Audience watched as the scene unfolds and provided feedback.

    “There is a war on our soldiers,” said Staff Sgt. Aquilla Greene, of 5th Aviation Battalion Sexual Harassment Assault Response Prevention (SHARP), Non Commission Officer in Charge (NCOIC). “It’s not on the battlefield. The war is sexual harassment and sexual assault, it’s in our work places, in our homes, in our neighborhood, and as soldiers we’re use to fighting battles. We have to come together as a force and fight the battle against sexual harassment and assault as a whole team. Not as one person, because one person can’t conquer it.”

    The party continues as soldiers watch a young under age female Soldier become intoxicated. Her friends allow her to leave with a mutual friend, who assures them, he will take care of Keisha. Sexual perpetrators are often someone familiar. In the case of “Keisha” played by Sgt. 1st Class LaKesha Coleman, she becomes a victim of familiar rape. The same soldier that offered help would hurt a fellow comrade. The nightmare of this particular skit scene is fellow soldiers stood back and did nothing to help prevent this from happening.

    The soldiers creed states, “I am a warrior and a member of a team, I serve the people of the United States and live the Army values … I will never leave a fallen comrade.

    When a fellow soldiers cry for help falls on deaf ears, the soldiers creed and Army values are being disregarded and not upheld.

    “We talk about Improvised Explosive Devices IED’s going off a lot,” said Brig. Gen. William Hickman, Commanding General of JRTC and Fort Polk. “You want to find the IED days before it happens, you want to take care of your friends when you’re going out.”

    Prevention is key to protection; the message rang loud and clear. A victim does not have to become a victim.

    A victims decision whether or not to file a restricted or unrestricted report will be the deciding factor of which agencies will be involved to help through a horrible incident. The victim may choose to use medical facilities, the Chaplain services, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) and/or the chain of command.

    A change has come, the music has stopped and now the soldiers are working through the incident. As in most incidents many of them are blaming the victim for not making better choices. Thus re-victimizing the victim. None of them are prepared when they find Keisha has committed suicide, just one of the many consequences behind sexual harassment and assault incidents.

    WE ARE THE FORCE BEHIND THE FIGHT.

    “Disappointment is the feeling that comes to mind with each and every incident (sexual assault),” said Rutledge. “I know the volume and level of sexual harassment training we go though on a quarterly, semi annually, and annual basis. There is no excuse for it to be happening, everybody is educated on the level where they know how to identify it; they know the proper control measures to put in place to see that it doesn’t happen. When it does happen, it’s intentional violation of the rules.”

    “This is a very innovative way to do training, said Hickman. Maybe the training this week will prevent, or keep everybody safe and we’ll have a stronger Army.”

    “This play got the point across,” said Private 1st Class Shamonte Sexton of 88th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st MEB.

    Throughout the skit Sgt. 1st. Class Tyronica Givens, 1st MEB Brigade SHARP coordinator, paused for moments of check on learning questions and answers. This is Givens way of knowing if the points hit home and reinforcing points brought out during the presentation. Audience participation helped seal the message of the day, said Givens.

    “One of the things were trying to prevent is victimizing the victim,” said Staff Sgt. Greene. “Be a help not a hindrance. If you pass by you are just as guilty as the perpetrator, it’s all of our jobs, which goes to the force behind the fight. If you see it happening intervene! As a soldier I can’t stand next to you in formation and know I let somebody hurt you.”

    One of the Army's prevention initiatives is to focus on achieving cultural change to eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassment from the ranks.

    Education is key to eradicate sexual /harassment and assault, though there is training and more and more Soldiers are educated still, some are lost, but we need to continue to build awareness.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.19.2013
    Date Posted: 04.24.2013 13:30
    Story ID: 105744
    Location: FORT POLK , LA, US 

    Web Views: 772
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