CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait- Sexual harassment and sexual assault is unacceptable, goes against all Army values and destroys teamwork, unit cohesion, trust and degrades mission readiness. “From my perspective, there is nothing more contrary to the basic values of being a soldier than sexually assaulting a fellow officer, or any person for that matter,” said Secretary of the Army John McHugh.
Third Army, 1st Sustainment Command (Theater) and 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) are all working towards the U.S. Army’s goal is to eliminate sexual harassment and sexual assault with the use of a new program, Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention training. Some of the things SHARP teaches soldiers about are awareness, prevention education, victim advocacy and reporting options.
“Even one case of sexual harassment or sexual assault is a big problem and it could happen anywhere, at the work place, on post or off post,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sandra Wheaton, the 316th ESC SHARP representative. The most important way to prevent this from happening is to intervene, act and motivate. I.A.M. Strong is a campaign the SHARP program uses to educate Soldiers. “Battle buddies should get involved, we are all brothers and sisters. Every soldier has to take care of their buddy, if they see them going down the wrong path pull them back, it’s not bad to intervene, you could save somebody’s life,” added Wheaton.
Echoing the 316th SHARP representative’s message, the 1st TSC SHARP representative Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christina Lunardini thinks that acting and intervening are the most important takeaways for soldiers. “I think if soldiers could get those two words in their brain and that’s all they remember about sharp I think that would go a long way to help this program help the army and help our team.”
“By acting, soldiers can prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault form occurring in the first place,” explained Lunardini. “If you see something that shouldn’t happen do something about it, stop it from happening, stop people from making mistakes.”
Intervening is also important. “If you see something that could potentially happen, intervene and stop it,” said Lunardini. “If you hear someone joking around, or see someone touching people or acting inappropriately, pull them aside and stop them. Tell them that this isn’t behavior that we need in the Army, there’s no place for it here.”
Additionally, all soldiers need to understand that sexual assault can be more than just rape. “Sexual assault is not only rape, but wrongful sexual contact, abusive sexual contact and aggravated sexual contact,” said Third Army senior SHARP representative Master Sgt. Jamye Sanders.
To increase soldiers’ awareness and understanding, there is upcoming SHARP training for 316th soldiers in October and there will also be a class for SHARP unit reps to become victim advocates starting in September, said Lunardini. “We are trying to get as many soldiers trained as we can to get the awareness out there.”
“We are one soldier one fight, we are a band of brothers and sisters and we need to start looking out for our fellow soldiers,” said Lunardini, “If we do that, we could stop sexual harassment and sexual assault from occurring.”
For more SHARP information or training opportunities please visit http://www.sexualassault.army.mil/.