Stepping off
Capt. Alan Cheung (center, left), leads Soldiers from the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the Joint Multinational Training Command during a terrain run through U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr. Last week, the community began training to mitigate sexual harassment and assault with its Ready and Resilient Day, April 3. This run was the first event of the month, which will include women's self-defense classes every Wednesday, a 5K run and several other events.

The film "The Invisible War" proved to be a powerful education tool as part of the U.S. Army in Europe's Ready and Resilient Day, April 3.

Sexual assault survivors featured in the documentary illustrate a realistic interpretation of how the sexual assault and sexual harassment lowers morale and impedes readiness.

This film, if thoughtfully considered, can be the catalyst for the beginning of a renewed community commitment. We are a band of brothers and sisters. Families should care for one another and do no harm, especially not on purpose.

It's clear, most people have a mother, brother, sister or child that may be affected. All military communities have resources available to help.

Among the newest is the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program, or SHARP, which streamlines the reporting process and services such as legal, medical and counseling services, which may be required for victims and survivors.

However, one incident is too many.

The real emphasis is on prevention. In our community, commanders have instituted restrictions on the sale of alcohol during nights and weekends, which is one way to minimize excessive drinking in the barracks. It's a small thing that could affect someone's Friday or Saturday night in a big way.

Training also helps.

For example in Ansbach, one unit instituted skits as part of their weekend safety briefings.
One Soldier remembered the skit and intervened in a bar on behalf of another. Sometimes having too much to drink can have severe consequences, but because a sergeant leaned forward, recognized a potentially negative outcome, his friend made it home safely.

Dr. Kurt Lewin, who is often called the father of social psychology, wrote that change happens by unfreezing, changing and refreezing behaviors.

By making tools available, encouraging a shift in behavior, and being vigilant and courageous, we can make the community a healthy, safe environment for all.

Later, this month the Department of Defense will release its annual report, which will cite an increase or decrease of reported cases.

This movie illustrates a lack of judgment, good order and discipline in a few. However, I believe that as each unit, commander and individual begins to discuss the real issues, implements a culture that prohibits predatory behaviors, while also demonstrating a zero tolerance for high-risk behaviors, the change will be realized, not only in an increased reporting trend, but also in a total decrease in the number of cases of sexual assault and harassment.

This month, let the discussion begin.

Page last updated Mon April 8th, 2013 at 00:00