Prevention key to culture change
October 11, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla.-- The SHARP office stands ready to assist anyone victimized by sexual assault or harassment on Fort Sill.
However, response to an assault is only a part of what SHARP can do for Soldiers. SHARP ends with P, which stands for prevention, and is appropriately at the acronym's end ... a fitting reminder to everyone to stop the behaviors that lead to such incidents.
Sgt. 1st Class Edward Emerling, sexual assault response coordinator, said working in the SHARP office gives him an opportunity to help change the culture in the Army. While he said it was never deemed acceptable to assault someone, at times this behavior was tolerated.
"Sexual harassment and assault go against everything a Soldier stands for. Now it's time for us to stand up and so no, sexual harassment or assault is not OK," he said.
He added Soldiers need to know, when they see instances of sexual assault or harassment, or behaviors that could lead to one or the other outcome, these things are not what the Army stands for.
"This is my opportunity as a leader to let Soldiers know it's not OK to harass or assault people and to help change this attitude of tolerance to where it's no longer going to be tolerated," he said.
Staff Sgt. Nicole Grigler, victim advocate, said harassment is an issue of equal concern because anything that creates an environment where one Soldier looks down upon another is totally inappropriate and not permissable in the Army. Examples of this could be as obvious as a T-shirt with an implied sexual message or a bumper sticker with a similar message placed on a personal vehicle.
Emerling admitted a Soldier's vehicle is personal property, but that vehicle once driven on post or into a unit area can create a hostile environment for some people who work there.
Grigler said the person's intent might not be to offend someone, but if anyone sees a Soldier or civilian wearing or displaying a message that could be implied as sexually harassing to let that person know.
Although uniforms come off at the end of the duty day, Soldiers are often reminded they remain Soldiers 24 hours a day.
"Soldiers on and off duty should conduct themselves in a professional manner," said Grigler.
Should anyone experience an incident of sexual assault or harassment, they may report it by calling the SHARP hotline at (580) 917-4277.
The line is manned 24 hours a day and callers will talk to a person, not an answering machine.