SHARP coordinator educates Soldiers throughout brigade
March 21, 2013
FORT SILL, OKLA. -- The Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program, also known as SHARP, began Oct. 1 throughout the Army. SHARP reinforces the Army's commitment to eliminate incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault by implementing an effective policy that focuses on awareness, prevention, training, education, victim advocacy, response and accountability.
Sgt. 1st Class Nicolas Raso is the 214th Fires Brigade Sexual Assault Response coordinator and has been educating Soldiers across the brigade about the program.
"The duties as the brigade's SARC/SHARP are to ensure the overall local management of sexual assault awareness, prevention, training and victim advocacy," said Raso, "also, to ensure victims are properly advised of their options for restricted and unrestricted reporting and to ensure victims of sexual assault receives guidance and emotional support during administrative, medical, investigative and legal procedures."
To become trained on sexual harassment and assault, victim advocates attend the 80-hour Military Training Team SHARP Course. After the course, victim advocates attend a three-day victim advocate installation certification course to qualify to assist victims on Fort Sill, said Raso.
"Aside from the required training, we as leaders bring in the Sex Signals training tool, which is a group of actors [that] portrays sexual scenarios and educates Soldiers," said Raso.
"I, at one occasion, got all the victim advocates from the brigade and took them to 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery and talked to them informally about sexual harassment and assault," said Raso. "No PowerPoint slides, just a sit down and talk. We called it 'Operation Talk SHARP,'" he said.
"It was very beneficial and good feedback," said Raso. "Some Soldiers learn and get more involved when you conduct outside-the-box training."
SHARP specialists throughout the brigade are training and ensuring the key messages of this comprehensive program are getting out to the brigade's Soldiers.
The key messages are that sexual harassment and sexual assault have no place in the Army, and that each military and civilian has a responsibility to intervene and take action to prevent it.
"[Preventing] sexual harassment or assault starts with the task and challenge of changing the culture within our ranks," said Raso, "conducting quality training, having a system in place to allow victims to come forward, and report and hold offenders responsible for their actions.
"By doing so, the command will send the message that it will not be tolerated and offenders will be dealt with," he said.
There are many benefits that the SHARP program can provide, said Raso.
"All service members get educated and trained on awareness, prevention and reporting," he said. "Someone trained is available at all times to assist victims from the start to end, ensuring victims get treated with respect, dignity and [their situation[ is kept confidential.
"The brigade SARC is a full-time job, along with the brigade victim advocate, so [there are] no excuses or interruptions in the victim's care," he said.
"The numbers of sexual harassment and assault are low within the brigade. The reason for this is because the commanders are creating a zero-tolerance environment and are allowing victim advocates and me to provide the awareness of reporting, recognizing and educating all service members. This in return fosters a healthier climate which keeps assaults and harassments down," he said.
The brigade's stance falls right inline with the Army's view that sexual assault and harassment have no place in its culture. The Army will not tolerate personnel who sexually harass or assaults anyone.
There are various services, offices and individuals available for such victims of sexual harassment or assault, including SHARP specialists, health care providers, chaplains, chain of command, military police, Army Community Services, Criminal Investigation Division, local and state police, the Staff Judge Advocate, Army One Source and 911.
Sexual harassment and sexual assault are contrary to Army Values, and even one incident is one too many, according to the SHARP curriculum. Soldiers and civilians live the Army Values and understand clearly there is no place for the "passive bystander." SHARP encourages and empowers the bystander to speak out.
Prior to the SHARP program, the Family Advocacy Program provided victim advocate services. "Now we handle and take care of our own," said Raso.