GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Alcohol and nightclubs are the two most prevalent factors in almost all sexual assault cases in the Bavarian Military Community, according to the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, coordinator for Bavaria and Franconia, Sgt. 1st Class Yolanda King.
“We are addressing those factors by enforcing leadership patrols at places like the train station,” said King. “We are also partnering with local nightclubs to get them to use SHARP hand stamps and hang up posters with removable contact information to serve as reminders and to guide soldiers who may be in or witnessing a potential [sexual assault] situation.”
She said the community SHARP program and unit leaders also use local trends and guidance from the Army to shape and strengthen the overall training on sexual harassment and sexual assault.
According to the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Annual Report, there were 3,374 reports of sexual assault involving service members throughout the Department of Defense in fiscal year 2012 – a six percent increase from the previous year. It also shows there were 1,423 reports of sexual assault throughout the Army – a number that reflects a 16 percent decrease from fiscal year 2011. Furthermore, the report cites Army survey results that indicate an increase in victims’ tendency to report, suggesting that the Army’s efforts have a positive effect on eliminating sexual assault in its ranks.
In addition to ongoing sexual assault prevention efforts, the Army launched the Ready and Resilient Campaign, known as R2C, in March 2013, to further enhance individual and collective readiness in order to improve readiness across the Army, according to an R2C introduction letter signed by the Secretary of the Army, Army Chief of Staff and Sergeant Major of the Army. The campaign includes a variety of wellness programs, prevention programs, and command initiatives to raise discipline amongst the Army’s ranks.
The Army’s Ready and Resilient Campaign also continues the Army’s efforts in combating sexual assault through promoting continued reduction by enhancing the way Army units conduct training on the issue.
According to the campaign summary, the R2C platform aims to indoctrinate a culture change in the Army by making resilience an everyday part of Army life, connecting personal resilience to unit readiness.
“The prevention of sexual assault is critical in maintaining the effective fighting force,” Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell, commander of United States Army Europe, said while promoting the R2C.
He explained that prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault is the community’s responsibility and that no one person or agency can combat the issue alone.
His words mirror the R2C, which synchronizes the efforts of existing Army resiliency programs, such as Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP), Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) and Suicide Prevention, to achieve an overarching framework for program management and execution.
Sgt. 1st Class King says that the resiliency partnerships combined with other changes to sexual assault training make the program more effective.
In the past, soldiers and civilians usually attended small group and lecture-based training as part of the Army’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, called SAPR, and Prevention of Sexual Harassment, often referred to as POSH, programs. Now, with the SAPR and POSH programs combined to form one effort, the SHARP program responds to leadership guidance through the Ready and Resilient Campaign by reinvigorating training, aligning itself with partner resiliency programs and focusing on more hands-on training techniques.
“Sexual harassment is often a precursor to sexual assault,” said King. “By combining the awareness and prevention training under one umbrella, the goal to achieve cultural change and foster an environment free of sexual harassment and sexual assault is substantially enhanced.”
Recently, unit level SHARP programs throughout Europe conducted professional development SHARP training, which included a viewing of “The Invisible War”, a film that highlights mishandled sexual assault cases in the military, and a subsequent panel discussion, including subject matter experts from partner resiliency programs and agencies. The training, mandated through the Ready and Resilient Campaign, facilitated discussion about sexual assault in the military and what leaders and individuals can do to eradicate the problem.
In Grafenwoehr, Germany, more than 7,000 community members participated in the viewing and panel discussion.
“This was the best SHARP training I’ve seen in a while”, said Spec. Stephanie Morgan of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the Joint Multinational Training Command.
She said when a topic affects people so deeply, interactive training is important.
For more information on the Army’s Ready and Resilient Campaign, visit http://www.army.mil/readyandresilient/.