FORT EUSTIS, Va., (April 9, 2014) -- U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command took a historic step toward eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment not only in the Army, but in the local community when the command held its first partnership discussion with academia at the Fort Eustis Club here, April 3.

"The key today is a dynamic exchange of information with respect to a common problem -- a horrific problem -- of sexual assault and sexual misconduct," said Maj. Gen. Mark MacCarley, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, deputy chief of staff.

MacCarley explained that the discussion was not only historic, but incredibly valuable based on the list of attendees who committed their time and effort to the endeavor.

Led by the Army Education Advisory Committee, the event included a list of more than 100 professionals -- military and civilian -- ranging from Army leaders, professors of military science, sexual assault response coordinators and victims advocates to community leaders and educators representing various colleges and universities throughout the region.

"What we were trying to do was get together colleges and universities with the Army because the demographics of the populations that the Army serves -- especially in initial training -- and the populations that the universities serve are so similar," said Michael Wartell, Army Education Advisory Committee chair and event facilitator.

Wartell added that both communities not only have a population of 18-22-year olds, but also have a similar structure -- universities and colleges have an organization of professors, clerical staff and custodians, while the Army has a hierarchal chain of command.

Throughout the day, colleges and universities received briefings from Christine Altendorf, Army SHARP director, William Foote, University of New Mexico adjunct professor as well as an overview of TRADOC's sexual harassment and assault response and prevention program, provided by Maj. Gen. Ross Ridge, U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training deputy commanding general, and Ellen Helmerson, TRADOC's G-1/4 deputy chief of staff.

"It went incredibly well for the first time, and it was also really effective in that the Army talked about programs, approaches, attitudes and values -- and the universities did exactly the same thing," Wartell said. "And I think the universities were encouraged by the Army's openness."

The openness continued in the roundtable discussions that followed, where colleges and universities not only shared experiences and best practices with the Army, but also exchanged information with one another, resulting in yet another positive outcome.

"When dealing with complex organizations, getting them together to talk about mutual problems -- I think -- can never be counterproductive," Wartell said. "It was instructive and enlightening for all involved."

Page last updated Thu April 10th, 2014 at 08:30