By Sarah Pacheco, Hawaii Army Weekly, U.S. Army Garrison-HawaiiApril 2, 2014
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (March 28, 2014) -- Expect to see a gradation of teal and royal blue ribbons on lapels across the garrison, next month, as the U.S. Army recognizes two very important causes.
The Army's Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) officially begins next Tuesday, April 1. However, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii got a head start on the annual campaign with a proclamation signing by Howard Johnston, deputy garrison commander, USAG-HI, at the Main Post Chapel, here, Monday.
"This is a commitment that we prevent any sexual assault from happening," said Johnston to the Soldiers in the chapel pews.
"If, unfortunately, sexual assault does occur, this is a commitment to provide the proper services to the victim," Johnston continued. "Lastly, this commitment is to have accountability, so that our system can hold itself accountable for its actions and events. This is what this commitment is all about."
SAAM is designed to raise awareness of sexual assault and resources for victims through educational activities that promote intervention, foster a climate of dignity and respect, and emphasize the five pillars of the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program: prevention, investigation, accountability, advocacy and assessment.
"Sexual assault is the No. 1 priority of the Army right now," said Adrienne Howe, acting installation sexual assault response coordinator; Army Community Service; Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; USAG-HI.
"This year's theme is 'Speak Up!' so we?'re looking at intervention and having people report, making sure everyone knows their resources and where they can go for help," Howe noted.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment violate everything the Army stands for, including its Army Values and Warrior Ethos. And while the Army is aggressively addressing both issues, the two terms refer to different forms of sexual violence.
According to the SHARP website, sexual harassment is defined as a form of gender discrimination that involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. While sexual harassment can involve physical contact, it also can refer to verbal or other forms of gender discrimination of a sexual nature.
Sexual assault, on the other hand, specifically refers to unwanted sexual, physical contact that is aggravated, abusive or wrongful, or any attempts to commit these acts. Sexual assault is a crime punishable by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
"Those who commit sexual assault hurt members of our team and wound our Army," Johnston stated. "This criminal act is cowardly and damaging to the very moral fiber that gives our Army its innermost strength."
To combat this "insider threat," the newly implemented, three-month-long "Got Your Back" interactive training has been adopted and adapted for use across the Army to actively engage Soldiers in discussions on roles they play in the prevention of sexual assault and harassment.
Soldiers throughout U.S. Army-Pacific have attended the 90-minute sessions, here, since February, during which time participants are encouraged to answer questions and provide input on realistic ways they can intervene in a harassment or assault situation, such as directly confronting the perpetrator or providing a distraction, so the victim has a chance to escape.
"It's a new SHARP training to get away from PowerPoint and be really interactive," said Howe. "It has a lot to do with bystander intervention and how we can all take a part in sexual assault prevention."
Next month, USAG-HI also will highlight issues concerning child abuse prevention, as April is Child Abuse Prevention Month as well.
"Here in Hawaii, the child abuse rates are higher than the Army child abuse rates, and a lot of that is due to the isolation," said Marlene Oda, a Family Advocacy Program (FAP) specialist with ACS.
"Sometimes kids can't stand up for themselves, so if you hear something, you should report it," Oda added. "If we can get the word out that FAP is here to help the community, then I think it'll really help keep that child safe, whoever that child is, just by the community knowing that we're here for them."
"We're here to support victims," agreed Howe. "I think people are often afraid to report, due to various reasons, the stigma attached to it, the whole process of retelling the story over and over again. But we are here. We can support you. There's a whole community standing behind you to help."
April 2014 is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The following events are scheduled to take place throughout the garrison, this month:
•Sexual Assault Awareness Golf Scramble -- April 4, noon, Leilehua Golf Course. Teams of four may register with Sgt. Maj. Russey, 808-655-8588.
•Our Community Speaks Up! Walk/Run -- April 5, 9 a.m., Weyand Field, Schofield Barracks. Walk or run this 2-mile loop with friends and family while learning safety tips and community resources. Registration begins at 8 a.m.
•Sexual Assault Awareness Fun Run -- April 11, 6:30 a.m., Hamilton Field, Schofield Barracks. Show your support in preventing sexual assault by participating in this family-friendly run.
•SHARP Information Fair -- April 16, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Schofield Barracks PX. Learn more about military and civilian resources available to Soldiers and their family members who may have experienced sexual assault.
•Take Back the Night Walk/Vigil -- April 30, 6:30 p.m., Warhawk Place/Wright Avenue, Wheeler Army Airfield. "Take Back the Night" and show your support for the survivors and victims of sexual assault. Bring your own flashlight, as on-site supplies are limited.
•Information tables will be set up at Schofield Barracks Class 6, 3-7 p.m., April 4, 11, 17 and 25, and at the Fort Shafter PX, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., April 8, 18 and 23. Stop by to meet your local SHARP team and to receive resources and giveaways.
For more information on any of the above events, call the U.S. Army Hawaii SHARP Office at 808-655-4782.
The SHARP hotline provides 24/7 response to active duty Soldiers, family members and dependents, ages 18 years or older, who are victims of sexual assault by an offender who is not a spouse or intimate partner. If you have been a victim of sexual assault, call 808-655-9474.
Additional support is available through the Department of Defense Safe Helpline at (877) 995-5247.