April 3 events to focus on sexual assault prevention, awareness in Franconia
March 29, 2013
BAMBERG, Germany (March 28, 2013) -- On April 3, communities throughout U.S. Army Europe will host events to mark Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
U.S. Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr. has deemed the day "USAREUR Ready and Resilient Training Day with SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention) focus."
Communities across the Franconian Military Community will be hosting events during the day. All health clinics at installations in Bavaria will be closed April 3 to support and participate in the activities. Emergency behavioral health and family advocacy services will be available during the day.
At U.S. Army Garrison Bamberg, the day will kick off with a 5-kilometer run at 7 a.m. at the Freedom Fitness Facility. There will be welcoming comments, an invocation and opening remarks from USAG Bamberg Garrison Commander Lt. Col. Michelle L. Bienias before the run.
Mark Bradley, USAG Bamberg's Family Advocacy Program manager, said the community is encouraged to take part in the run.
"It is an event to show in force that as a community we are taking a stand," he said. "We are all doing this together."
That sentiment reflects this year's Sexual Assault Awareness month theme of, "We own it. We will solve it together."
"SHARP is really a truly coordinated effort between the civilian side of the house and the uniform side of the house," Bradley said. "Sexual assault is a problem that needs all of our attention to be fixed."
The Academy Award-nominated film, "The Invisible War", will be shown several times throughout the month in Bamberg, including twice April 3. The film will be shown at 10 a.m. and then at 1:30 p.m. on April 3 at the post movie theater.
The target audience for the first showing is the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and tenant units. The 16th Sustainment Brigade and the 54th Engineer Battalion will be the focus for the second showing.
The film will be shown again at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on April 18 and 9 a.m. on April 19. Bradley said anyone in the community is invited to attend any showing of the movie.
The film is a documentary that examines the problem of sexual assault in the military.
"It's not an Army training film," Bradley said.
Bradley said the film already has led to some changes in the way sexual assault is handled in the military, in particular with the way victims are treated.
"The paramount thing is that all sexual assault victims be treated with dignity and respect and are fully aware of options available to them," he said.
Following each viewing of the film, USAG Bamberg will host a panel discussion with experts on the topic of sexual assault, including Bradley, the Criminal Investigation Division, Military Police, chaplains, health care professionals and representatives from the legal office.
USAG Ansbach will show "The Invisible War" at Katterbach Theater at Bismarck Kaserne at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. along with a panel discussion.
"The way the training is broken up, there will be some stuff going on in the morning, some stuff going on in the afternoon, so not everyone has to be in one place at one time," said John O'Brien, who helped coordinate the training day at USAG Ansbach.
USAG Schweinfurt will show the film seven times: 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. April 1 at Ledward Theater, 9 a.m. at Conn Club, 9 a.m. at Finney Gym, 11:30 a.m. at Ledward Theater, 1 p.m. at Signal University (Bldg. 68), and 1 p.m. at Ledward Chapel. USAG Schweinfurt will also hold a launch and commitment pledge at their PX and an information drive at various locations throughout the post.
"It is a requirement," said O'Brien of the training. "We should have 100 percent participation. This is a USAREUR-wide stand-down, so there shouldn't be other mission things going on, but [Directorate of Emergency Services] can't shut down their operations, medical can't entirely shut down their operations, so there will be some still that aren't able to attend this training."
Bradley said he hopes the events April 3 will raise awareness about the effects of sexual assault.
"Sexual assault does a few things," he said. "First, it is a crime. Every report is fully and vigorously investigated and, where warranted, prosecuted. Number 2, it undermines the very fabric of one of essential cornerstones as professionals: Trust. Sexual assault robs that sense of trust."
Bradley said education is key to preventing sexual assault.
"There is also, however, the issue of people intervening and keeping others from making stupid mistakes," Bradley said. "It takes that intervention. If you see someone who looks at risk for victimization, intervene. If you see your buddy look like they could put themselves in a position where they could be accused, intervene."
In addition to the community-wide events planned on April 3, Sexual Assault Response Coordinators are planning their own trainings and events for their units.
There will also be information booths around post throughout the month, and SARCs are organizing a clothesline project, where individuals can hang various colored T-shirts to represent that they have been victims of sexual assault or support sexual assault prevention, said Staff Sgt. Eva Sanchez, 16th SB SARC and lead SARC in Bamberg.
She said the SARCs also will be teaching students at the high school about sexual harassment.
Sanchez said there is a Bavaria SHARP hotline, which victims of sexual assault can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for help and to be referred to their local SHARP. The number is 0964-183-4567.