June 29, 2011
By Kerstin Lopez, Fort Carson
FORT CARSON, Colo. — The Army is taking a stand against sexual harassment and assault with the implementation of a new program.
The 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.
The 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, said Master Sgt. Cory Wilson, SHARP noncommissioned officer-in-charge.
In order to enhance military readiness, productivity and unit cohesion and to stop sexual harassment and assault, the Army aims to achieve cultural change.
“The Army is moving to a culture of prevention instead of reacting. The U.S. Army’s new policy now is to prevent, and that’s why they have the SHARP program,” Wilson said.
The program will be fully implemented by July 2012, but the installation will begin to see the shift from SAPR to SHARP as early as March.
“Right now we have a transition team, which is setting up the program within the division and Fort Carson community,” Wilson said. “The program is in its infancy and right now we fall under EO (Equal Opportunity) — the breakaway comes around the March time frame.”
Harassment is thought to be a precursor to sexual assault and by addressing the issue, the hope is to eliminate both offenses from the military.
Lt. Col. Cyndi Shue, interim EO and SHARP program manager, said the program is moving in the right direction by including sexual harassment.
“With the implementation of SHARP, EO will be able to better assist leaders to focus on maximizing Soldier potential and ensure fair treatment for all based solely on merit, fitness and capability,” Shue said. “Tightening resources fosters competition for control.”
“Taken a step too far, the need for control may evolve into sexual harassment, a form of sex discrimination. SHARP will target awareness and prevention of harassment behaviors, while facilitating the care and recovery of those affected by assault,” Shue said.
During the annual SHARP summit in March, Army Secretary John McHugh said the conference was an effective venue to reinforce SHARP training and share prevention strategies, messages and ideas. He emphasized that the Army is on the right track with the new program and will continue to combat the issues of sexual harassment and assault in military ranks.
“The fact that this sexual assault still occurs in our ranks is heartbreaking, and it’s antithetical to everything we value in this institution. And at the risk of stating the obvious, it is simply unacceptable,” McHugh said.
“Three years ago, this Army — all of you — recognized this problem for what it was,” McHugh said. “And that recognition led to the development of programs and initiatives to tackle the issue head on. All of you committed yourselves; you committed yourselves to helping this Army become a national leader in the awareness of what is, in large measure, an under reported crime, but also in the prevention of that crime.”
“And I think it’s fair to say as well that each aspect to the SHARP program has in its own way helped stunt the growth of this scourge within our ranks,” he said. And we’ve spent almost $54 million on the ‘I. A.M. Strong’ Campaign, and we did it to educate Soldiers, to prevent the acts from ever happening, and this specialized advocacy in Army-wide Soldier awareness training has given us the ability to recognize and better prevent the problem from the ground up.”
Wilson said the SHARP program is important because it demonstrates that the Army is taking the forefront, like it does with many things.
“Bottom line is there is no place for sexual assault or harassment in the Army,” Wilson said. “I really believe in this program and support it 110 percent. I think it’s going to have good results.”
The kickoff program launch will be July 15, 2011, from 9 to 11 a.m. at McMahon Theater for all SHARP personnel. Upcoming SHARP training classes will be held in August and October, followed by two more classes in January and February.