April 25, 2016, by Sgt. 1st Class Anthony L Taylor – April is the U.S. Army’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month with this year’s theme: “Know Your Part. Do Your Part.”
The Army Reserve’s 85th Support Command Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention team planned various training events, throughout the month, to help spread awareness in what one can do to prevent, respond to and reduce sexual assault within the ranks.
Deborah Plowden, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, 85th Support Command, and her SHARP team, conducted an installation-walk at the Paul G. Schulstad Army Reserve Center with soldiers and civilian staff from the command headquarters and the Defense Contract Management Agency- Chicago, April 22, 2016.
“The purpose of conducting the event was to bring awareness to Sexual Assault Awareness Prevention,” said Tierney Williams, SHARP Victim Advocate, 85th Support Command. “The SHARP team hopes that the take-away from this event is (that) people get out in their communities, family gatherings, and church and discuss the importance of being SHARP. What that means is knowing that sexual harassment and sexual assaults do occur and that it is okay to talk about it, tell someone and get help to recovery.”
Walk participants came out feeling passionate about their goals to help spread awareness to the ongoing problem.
“Despite continued efforts through training, the military and its civilian counterparts still see a problem (within) the ranks. My goal in the walk was to help raise awareness of the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention program,” said Dee Rasilier, Administrative Support Services Specialist. “We must look forward and work together to mitigate this problem.”
Plowden led the participants on an interactive and educational walk that tested their knowledge regarding details of the SHARP program. She created a friendly competition between the organizations, engaging their understanding of SHARP and bringing forth additional insight.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to bring light to a topic that doesn’t get a lot of the attention that it deserves,” said Master Sgt. Audley Logan, Assistant IG, 85th Support Command. “I do feel it brought some insight as well as provided education to how to report an incident and to whom to report it to.
Event walkers were also very receptive to the change in the training environment.
“It was a beautiful, sunny day that we enjoyed together and got a little exercise on the way. Moving helps some people learn, so we walked and we talked,” said Rasilier.
During the last stretch of the walk, Plowden asked the participants to walk in silence to reflect on someone that they may have known to be a victim. She closed the event with reminding the group that sexual harassment and assaults can happen to anyone at any time.
“It is a huge problem amongst our ranks and unless we stand together against these issues, they will divide us and poison this great organization,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Monica Perkins. “I applaud our SARC for making this walk interactive – (and testing) our SHARP awareness.”