JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - More than 500 Joint Base Lewis-McChord service members, Families and civilians turned out to support the 2013 Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention 5k Run/Walk, April 20. The event, hosted by the 7th Infantry Division, was a way for the JBLM community to raise awareness of sexual harassment and assault.
Sexual harassment and assaults not only affect the victim, but can affect unit morale and cohesion, and go against the Army Values. For this reason, the Army launched a robust “I. A.M. (Intervene—Act—Motivate) Strong” campaign; the campaign was established to combat sexual assaults by engaging all soldiers in preventing them before they occur.
On a particularly chilly, but surprisingly rain-free, Washington morning, participants lined the street in front of Lewis North’s Wilson Gym. Following the National Anthem and Invocation, Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, 7th Inf. Div. commanding general, addressed the crowd.
"Together, collectively, we own this and together, collectively, we can set the climate and the culture in our formation where this does not occur-- where everybody on this installation and everybody in this profession are treated equally and given the respect they deserve,” Lanza said.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and denotes the start of the third phase of the I. A.M. Strong campaign— “Achieving Cultural Change.” With that, senior Army leaders spoke of the success of the campaign thus far in a letter to the force earlier this month.
“Over the last year, the Army achieved great progress toward institutionalizing our (SHARP) Program. We improved SHARP training, revised command climate surveys, increased investigative and legal efforts to fully employ special victim capabilities, implemented full-time Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Victim Advocates in brigades and identified program gaps,” the letter reads. “Together, these achievements are moving our ‘I. A.M. Strong’ Sexual Harassment/Assault Prevention Campaign forward to realize our goal of achieving cultural change.”
The memorandum was signed by Sergeant Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler, III; Gen. Ray Odierno, Army Chief of Staff; and the Hon. John M. McHugh, Secretary of the Army.
Lanza asked everyone to be a part of the solution, not the problem, regardless of their rank or position.
"Together we own this problem and together we can fix this so that we don't have to have something to recognize a problem that should never exist in our ranks as professionals," said Lanza. “Remember, we can make a difference. We, as leaders, can decide that this will not happen on our watch, in our formation, with those that we care about.”
The I. A.M. Strong Campaign, consists of four phases to be carried out Army-wide over a five-year period. The Army kicked off its first phase— Leadership Commitment— in September 2008. Phase II of the campaign was launched in April 2009, and was centered on "Army-wide Commitment.”
Phase III, which is currently in place, is meant to "Achieve Cultural Change" and, ultimately, Phase IV will be "Sustainment, Refinement and Sharing Best Practices."
For more information on the I. A.M. Strong Campaign, or to find Sexual Harassment and Assault resources and support, visit the U.S. Army SHARP website at www.sexualassault.army.mil.