By Susanne Kappler, Fort Jackson LeaderApril 3, 2014
FORT JACKSON, S.C. (April 3, 2014) -- April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and a number of events are scheduled on Fort Jackson to remind community members of the importance of preventing sexual assault.
"We'll do everything that we can to try to boost people's awareness of sexual assault or the SHARP program," said Master Sgt. Dietra Woods, installation sexual assault response coordinator.
The Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, program aims to prevent sexual harassment and assault through training and information campaigns. The SHARP team also answers phone calls to a local hotline for people dealing with sexual harassment and assault. The number is (803) 543-3085. Phone calls are answered around the clock by credentialed victim advocates.
"We're here to assist," Woods said. "We don't care what brigade or company you belong to, we're just trying to make sure that we take care of you."
Dedicated phones are also available for Soldiers in Basic Combat Training who don't have access to cell phones or landlines.
To commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month, banners will be displayed at the gates reminding visitors and employees of its significance. In addition, the Clothesline Project will be on display at the Strom Thurmond Building all month. Different-colored T-shirts are on display, which represent different kinds of assault people have been subjected to. Literature will be available to let visitors know what each shirt stands for.
A SHARP summit for chaplains and command teams of battalion-level or higher units is planned for April 15. It is modeled after the Army SHARP summit in January, and its goal is to keep leaders informed about the program.
"What we're going to talk about are various topics as to how leadership can better understand SHARP," Woods said.
On April 20, the community will mark Denim Day with a walk around Semmes Lake from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Denim wear is encouraged. The event commemorates a case in Italy where an alleged assailant was acquitted because the victim wore denim during the attack.
"Got your back training" will be returning to Fort Jackson from April 28 through May 2.
"It's already been on Fort Jackson three times, but this one is going to be the last iteration of the training to come to Jackson for the entire installation," Woods said.
The training will be open to military and civilian employees.
"The difference between this SHARP training and every other one is that now we're turning it toward you as the bystander," Woods said.
Woods emphasized that everyone plays a part in preventing sexual harassment and assault.
"Prevention begins with each one of us. We're the ones who set the tone," she said.
She said her goal is for everyone on post to be familiar with the SHARP program. That knowledge can also be of help if a person becomes aware of sexual harassment or assault, she said.
"Make sure that you're voicing that you know what the program is about and that you're giving out the (hotline) phone number and that you're looking out for one another and watch for signs," Woods said. "Let people know, 'If you need help, I'm here or I can give you the number for the hotline.'"
For more information on the SHARP program, visit www.sexualassault.army.mil.