Soldiers and Families are our most treasured commodities. When threatened, the effectiveness of our fighting force is at risk. A sad truth in today’s environment is that one of those threats comes from within — sexual assault and sexual harassment. Each of us must take an active role in eliminating this threat as it is detrimental to readiness and violates our Army values and obligation to treat everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Our Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program is a comprehensive integration and transformation of the Army’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program and Prevention of Sexual Harassment efforts. Our SHARP Program reinforces the Army’s commitment to eliminating incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault through awareness and prevention, training, victim advocacy, reporting, and accountability. However, having a program is one thing, making that program work requires educated, inspired and engaged leaders at every level – and a willingness to take action.
The first step to eliminating this threat is to understand it and be able to recognize it when it rears its ugly head in our midst. We must pay close attention to our surroundings and those within our formations. Do we suspect sexual assault or harassment is taking place? Do we know what to look for, what to report and where to report it?
Sexual harassment is defined as a form of gender discrimination involving unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature between two individuals. Sexual harassment can be, but is not limited to, verbal harassment, telling sexual jokes and using sexually explicit profanity. It can also be defined by nonverbal harassment, such as looking intently at someone, blowing kisses, displaying sexually-charged pictures, or inappropriate physical contact.
Sexual assault is a crime, and should be treated as such. Sexual assault is any involuntary sexual act in which a person is threatened, coerced or forced to engage against their will, or any sexual touching of a person who has not consented to that touch. Any Soldier who is aware of an incident of sexual assault is obligated to report this crime. If the Soldier is the victim, he/she may elect to restrict the report to the victim advocate, medical personnel, and chaplaincy.
I ask every Soldier, civilian employee and Family member to seek out, take advantage of, and utilize the SHARP program and all the resources available to them. Victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact law enforcement personnel immediately. You can report a case of sexual assault or harassment at Fort Bragg and the surrounding areas by calling 584-4267. If you are a victim of sexual assault or harassment and just need to talk with someone, call the Hotline at 584-4267. If you have questions or concerns, please contact the SHARP program manager’s office at 432-8113 or 9729 or visit their website at www.bragg.army.mil/18abc/SHARP/Pages/default.aspx.
Sexual harassment and sexual assault have no place in our ranks or in our community. Prevention, training, victim advocacy, reporting, and accountability are shared responsibilities that all leaders and Soldiers must take to heart to fully protect ourselves and our battle buddies.
Let’s commit to fighting as one team to eliminate this threat from our ranks.
Airborne! All the Way!