Deployed Forces: Battalion takes sexual assault seriously

| April 16, 2010 | 0 Comments

Pfc. Jennifer L. Lowes
130th Engineer Brigade Public Affairs

CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE, Marez, Iraq — The 130th Engineer Brigade’s Headquarters Company and the 779th Engineer Battalion hosted a luncheon at the dining facility’s VIP room, April 2, here, to raise awareness about sexual harassment/assault in the military. 

Guest speaker was Capt. Donovan Horton, U.S. Army behavioral health professional. 

Horton, who has five years experience with behavioral health in the Army Reserves, said he does not take this issue lightly. 

“This is a serious issue. Sexual assault/harassment destroys any type of bond we, as a military family, have built,” Horton said.

According to Horton, 80 percent of all sexual assaults in the military go unreported.

“The emotional effects of a sexual assault can be more damaging than the physical assault. When a victim doesn’t report an assault or seek help, it impairs the therapeutic process. Trying to move on without getting help never works,” he explained.

Soldiers also watched an informational video about the Army’s “I. A.M. STRONG” campaign. The video encouraged Soldiers to intervene, act and motivate others to do the same when sexual assault/harassment occurs.

Through this program, the Army proactively engages Soldiers and the American public with communication products and lectures that show what the Army is doing to change the climate from one of not reporting, to one that encourages reporting of sexual offenses. 

The program uses more proactive measures to educate, train and improve its workforce. 

The I. A.M. STRONG program encourages Soldiers to refrain from sexually offensive languages and gestures. It also offers training tools for leaders, including the video played at the luncheon. Further, the I. A.M. STRONG campaign coincides with the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program and encourages Soldiers to take a stand against sexual harassment/assault in the military. 

“Sexual assault is ignorant to race, social class, gender and rank,” said Capt. Jorge Iturralde, 779th Eng. Bn., unit victim advocate. 

Unit victim advocates are Soldiers assigned by battalion-level commanders. They are trained to help educate victims of sexual assault about reporting options and resources.

The Army continues to aggressively address sexual assault issues, focusing on prevention, caring for victims and taking appropriate adverse administrative or disciplinary action against Soldiers who commit sexual assault. 

The Army constantly monitors and refines its policies and programs.

Category: Deployed Forces, News

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