25th ID certifies new SHARP victim advocates

| August 30, 2013 | 0 Comments
Staff Sgt. Giancarlo Ramos, squad leader, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division, highlights information about victims' rights during an 80-hour Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention certification course, Aug. 13.

Staff Sgt. Giancarlo Ramos, squad leader, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division, highlights information about victims’ rights during an 80-hour Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention certification course, Aug. 13.

Story and photo by
Sgt. Daniel Schroeder
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs
25th Infantry Division

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Hawaiian Army units recently certified approximately 50 new unit Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) victim advocates after they completed an 80-hour course.

“The course established the skills needed to become a victim advocate to support victims should they encounter sexual harassment or sexual assault,” said Jessica Lynch, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii SHARP coordinator. “As victim advocates, we have to assess the victims and give them what they need, educate them on what their rights are and prevent future attacks on them and others.”

The program reinforces the Army’s commitment to eliminate incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault through awareness, prevention, training, victim advocacy, reporting and accountability. It’s focused on creating a climate that minimizes sexual assault incidents by giving unit advocates the tools and resources they need to provide support to victims, and educate and inform Soldiers and leaders.

“We must assist the victims by letting them know what their options are, what rights they have, resources available … and be a shoulder to lean on in tough times,” said Staff Sgt. Sioualofa Mayville, 25th CAB victim advocate.

Unit victim advocates encourage victims to report incidents of sexual assault without fear and ensure sensitive and comprehensive treatment to restore victims’ health and well-being.

The program also establishes sexual assault prevention training and awareness programs to educate all of its Soldiers. One tool the Army adopted is the Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering documentary, “The Invisible War,” which is helping Soldiers understand the seriousness of sexual crimes.

“These new videos show Soldiers that they are not alone in this,” Mayville said. “I helped a Soldier who decided to participate in the videos after she watched the first one. The videos put a face to the incident as opposed to a scenario during a PowerPoint slide.”

Soldiers who have dealt with similar experiences before are noticing a change.

“I have had a very personal experience with this in the past,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Hargrave, operations tasking noncommissioned officer, 30th Signal Battalion, who just completed the 80-hour certification. “We are stepping up our level and effectiveness of training. In my experience, we are on the right track for assisting victims and preventing future acts of unwanted sexual contact.”

The unit victim advocates also educate leaders to ensure they understand roles and responsibilities regarding response to sexual assault victims and thoroughly investigate allegations of sexual assault by taking appropriate administrative and disciplinary action.

“We are taking important steps to provide new training for commanders, strengthen our training enterprise for all service members, improve our investigative and military justice system capabilities, and further professionalize our first responders,” said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in a memorandum addressing sexual assault prevention and response. “Ultimately, we must ensure that every service member understands that sexist behaviors, sexual harassment and sexual assault are not tolerated, condoned or ignored.”

The Department of Defense stated the rate of reported cases of sexual assault in the Army decreased from 2.5 per 1,000 Soldiers in fiscal year 2011 to 2.2 per 1,000 in its FY 2012 annual report on sexual assault in the military.

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Category: News, Training

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