Documentary educates in a SHARP way
February 22, 2013
It wasn't a typical SHARP training event.
On Thursday, close to 100 Soldiers and civilians in U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command on Fort Belvoir gathered for their required Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program training and watched the critically acclaimed documentary film "The Invisible War."
The film, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, focuses on the issues of rape and sexual assault in the military. It includes interviews with real rape victims, who talk about what happened to them, how it affected their lives and their troubles with bringing perpetrators to justice in the military system.
Despite the controversy behind it, the film is now part of the Department of the Army's revamped SHARP training requirements because of the added focus it brings to these important issues.
"The main goal of the training was to do something different," said Master Sgt. Charm Brown-Rogers, INSCOM Equal Opportunity noncommissioned officer-in-charge, who led the training event. "The death by PowerPoint for three hours is not getting (done) what we need to get done."
She said the film was a great way to bring this issue to a personal level. "It's fresh and it's relevant. It shows so many perspectives -- males, females, officers, (enlisted). It shows every issue, from dealing with Veterans' Affairs to medication."
The film also contributed to the most discussion Brown-Rogers has ever seen following SHARP training.
"This was the first time that 12 o'clock hit and everybody stayed," she said. "Everybody was engaged. I think they would have stayed another 30 minutes."
Spc. Melissa Brown, INSCOM Chaplain's Office, said watching "The Invisible War" brought the reality of sexual assault home.
"It's a shocker," she said. "I don't think people realize what's really out there. I think it's a good training tool in that sense."
Sgt. 1st Class Max Maier, INSCOM G-6, said it was the most meaningful SHARP training he's ever attended.
"I think it was a lot better than the other SHARP training I've received," he said. "I think it just really opens your eyes to what people emotionally go through when those kinds of events happen."
Before the film, Brown-Rogers led attendees in an interactive discussion on sexual harassment and assault with guest panel members, including the Fort Belvoir Victim Advocate, a chaplain, and leaders from the Staff Judge Advocate and Criminal Investigative Division offices.
Brig. Gen. Robert Walter, INSCOM deputy commanding general, also gave the group his insights on sexual harassment in the Army, after recently leading a seven-month task force on the subject.
Walter said that while the film is a good training tool, it is wrong in its assertion that the Army cannot resolve the issue without outside help. All it will take, he added, is for everyone to do their part and change their work environments so that no sexual innuendos are tolerated.
"This problem has to be addressed by each and every one of us. You can't prevent sexual assault unless you're addressing sexual harassment," he said. "You can change it. Ask yourself, would you want your daughter talked to that way? Would you want your wife talked to that way? If the answer is no, it's probably wrong."