By 2LT Hannah Martins, HHD, 709th MP BattalionApril 18, 2014
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Recently, members of the 709th MP Battalion carried a unique burden during their morning physical training at Tower Barracks--and it wasn't just the rucksacks.
They were introduced to "Private Thomas," a male victim of sexual assault, who they had to guide through aspects of the SHARP reporting process. Teams of five or six received a rucksack, clues and a map and ran to locations such as the garrison SARC, the Troop Medical Clinic, the ASAP office, the Battalion Chaplain, and CID.
At each location, "Private Thomas" and his team of supporters learned more about the resources offered to victims of Sexual Assault and how each can play a part in restricted and/or unrestricted reports.
Sandbags that each team had to carry represented the heavy weight that Sexual Assault places on the shoulder of a victim, a weight that becomes easier with the help of supportive Soldiers and team members.
The activity kicked off SHARP Stand-Down Day, an event that occurred throughout the 18th MP Brigade on 15 April. It ties into USAG Bavaria's Sexual Assault Awareness Month, continuing throughout April.
HHD, 709th Soldiers also received briefs from a Special Victims Counsel and a Bavaria Medical Department representative, who explained and passed around Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examination (SAMFE) kits.
Both speakers touched on how SHARP incidents occurring amongst Soldiers in Germany must account for additional variables. For example, German medical personnel cannot be compelled to testify in a UCMJ proceeding.
Additionally, victims who ask for medical care from a German hospital and refer to their sexual assault will no longer be able to file a restricted report, because those hospital personnel are required to report the crime.
Throughout the day, Soldiers and leaders discussed the SHARP program and how it related to the Army Professional Ethic, especially trust. Videos, role-playing and plenty of food kept everyone engaged.