By Tim Hipps, Installation Management CommandMay 23, 2013
SAN ANTONIO (May 21, 2013) -- Workers at U.S. Army Installation Management Command headquarters began their week May 20 with a previously unscheduled but mandatory three-hour session of Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention training.
Four days after President Barack Obama tasked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to lead the effort to eliminate sexual assault and harassment from the military, IMCOM, the command whose motto is "We are the Army's Home," got busy changing its culture, beginning with its headquarters.
"If it's our top priority, what's more important than to start the next day with a discussion of this?" said Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter, IMCOM commander, as he led the training.
Three days earlier, Gen. Ray Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army told Ferriter SHARP is his No. 1 priority. "We need to have a keen understanding of this program," Ferriter said.
The SHARP program was designed by the Army to prevent sexual harassment and assaults before they occur. The goal is to eliminate sexual harassment and assaults by creating a climate that respects the dignity of every member of the Army family.
"We do have standards we're going to live by," Ferriter said. "If you don't have them written down, we're going to clarify them. … We, the leaders of the Army, we've got a problem, and the problem is an alarming number of sexual assaults and a culture and climate of sexual harassment.
"We're going to do something about it, and we're going to start right here with our headquarters and we're going to make sure that all of you have a work environment that's free of any kind of sexual harassment."
Green-suited Soldiers and Army civilians sat side-by-side during the training session, which covered everything from Soldier-on-Soldier sexual assault to civilian-on-civilian sexual harassment.
By day's end, six hours of SHARP training had been conducted.
"It's not about annual training; it's about change," Ferriter concluded. "If we have to do this three times a week, I'm in, until we get it right."