Awareness month's goal to stop sexual assault

They want you to know that they're there for you this month and every month.

They are the SHARP representatives in organizations throughout Redstone Arsenal. SHARP stands for Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention.

The sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates gathered April 8 at Army Community Service to kickoff Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

"We are the faces behind the fight," Chanley Pickard, the Garrison sexual assault response coordinator, said. He led the meeting in which he talked about training and had everyone sign in before gathering for a group photo.

The month's theme is, "Live Our Values: Step Up to Stop Sexual Assault."

Activities throughout April will include a "clothesline project," in which T-shirts with artwork by victims and survivors will be displayed at various locations; and SHARP town hall panel meetings. Lt. Gen. David Mann, commander of the Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, will lead one such meeting at 1 p.m. April 23 at Von Braun III. Lt. Gen. Patricia McQuistion, deputy commander of the Army Materiel Command and senior commander of Redstone Arsenal, will lead a meeting May 15 in the Von Braun Complex.

May 15 will be the Redstone-wide SHARP stand-down day. Commanders throughout Redstone will be reading proclamations that day about the monthlong observance.

"SHARP representatives in all the commands allow the workforce to have their own point of contact for SHARP information as well as victim advocacy if that ever became an issue," Jennifer Blatter, the sexual assault response coordinator for the Army Materiel Command, said. "There is a SHARP representative for every person at Redstone Arsenal. And there's someone available 24 hours a day."

Odri Hastings, a victim advocate for the Aviation and Missile Command, described the importance of these representatives.

"It's to bring about awareness for the program," Hastings said. "You want to be able to protect the lives of people by doing the right thing."

Sgt. Maj. Wanda Vereen, SMDC's G-1 (human resource) sergeant major, fills the role of a victim advocate as a collateral duty.

"To me SHARP personnel are so important because we help provide to the victim that first immediate response when it comes to victim's care," Vereen said. "In other words, we ensure that each victim receives the ultimate care available. We have been trained and credentialed to ensure victims receive the support that they are entitled to and are informed of all eligible services.

"Also we as SHARP personnel are the trainers of the unit so we are responsible to the command -- whatever commands we're assigned to -- to ensure that the climate is one that fosters dignity and respect and supports the SHARP program, because it is a commander's program. And at SMDC, the SHARP program is our commander's top priority."