FORT McCOY, Wis. -- Retired Maj. Gen. Robert D. Shadley said he never had training like the Army has today with the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program. He did, however, gain a whole lot of experience "on the job."
Shadley, who served 33 years in the Army and retired in 2000, was the featured speaker for Fort McCoy's Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) observance April 16 at the Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned Officer Academy.
Shadley may be known best for serving as the commanding general at the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and School at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., in the mid-1990s. There, he helped expose the "Military Sex GAMe." Known as GAM, or "Game ala Military," it was an entire network of senior male drill instructors at Aberdeen who were in competition with each other to sexually assault and exploit young female trainees in their charge.
From his experience in exposing the scandal, Shadley wrote a book entitled, "The GAMe: Unraveling a Military Sex Scandal." From that same experience, Shadley developed his presentation to Fort McCoy he called, "Leadership, In A Crisis."
"What leaders in our Army do today is we teach, we train, and we show young people the way ahead and to do the right thing," Shadley said. "And that's what we're here to talk about today."
The things Shadley learned during his experience at Aberdeen, he said, fit with the Army's 2014 SAAM theme, "Live Our Values: Step Up to Stop Sexual Assault."
Shadley said the sexual assault challenges the Department of Defense (DOD) faces must be eradicated like cancer. He recalled how the view on sexual harassment and assault changed over the course of his military career to today. He also cited what it was like dealing with the sex scandal in Maryland.
"My wife kept track of how much time I spent dealing with the subject of sexual assault when I was at Aberdeen," Shadley said. "I worked on the subject of sexual misconduct an average of 14 hours a day, seven days a week for 10 months."
He said at that same time he spent six hours a day working the rest of his commander duties, averaged four hours of sleep, and lost about 35 pounds.
"I stopped counting when I got to about 5,000 pages of sworn statements and court martial charge documents," Shadley said.
Shadley said the Aberdeen experience helped him better understand the impact that sexual assault has on victims, noting it is "life-altering for the rest of their life."
In his experience, Shadley said very seldom is there one perpetrator and one victim. More often, it's one perpetrator and multiple victims. "Just one sexual assault, though, is one too many," Shadley said.
Throughout his presentation, Shadley pointed to a theme that understanding and eradicating sexual assault in the Army will take everyone's involvement. One example is his use of "four Cs" -- competence, character, chemistry and curiosity -- that relate to management and leadership.
All people must be competent to do their job, and have the character to do the right thing even when it is difficult, Shadley said. Chemistry describes "how we are all part of a team."
When he addressed curiosity, Shadley referred back to his Aberdeen experience. During the investigation he saw a sworn statement from a first sergeant who stated he and his wife were at a mall and saw one of the drill sergeants (from Aberdeen) with a female trainee going into a lingerie store together. Shadley said the first sergeant should have been more curious about what was taking place.
"Do you think he was helping her buy a Mother's Day gift for her mom?" Shadley asked rhetorically.
"What did the first sergeant do about this? Nothing. That's why our challenge today is each of us needs to set and enforce the highest standards. If you see someone doing something that isn't right, call them out on it," Shadley said. "Give them a chance to correct the behavior. If they don't correct the behavior, then report them to the chain of command."
Shadley also encouraged the audience to remember "four Bs" -- booze, boys and girls, bucks and ballots. Avoiding each of these factors, he said, can help prevent bad situations from happening that could lead to sexual assault.
"Boozing (drinking alcohol)," he said, can place people in vulnerable situations. When discussing "boys and girls," he stated to avoid having inappropriate personal relationships, which can lead to problems in the workplace and elsewhere.
Discussing "bucks," he said there are people out there who are willing to steal money or valuables from their company, such as the Army. It can also mean people using money as a means to entice possible victims.
Ballots, he said, refers to people who are so political they will do anything to further their career through taking advantage of others. Knowing these and other risk factors that lead to bad situations can help prevent sexual assaults from taking place.
One big thing Shadley said the Army and all the other services learned from the cases at Aberdeen was the importance of taking care of the victims of sexual assault crimes. "In a crisis, the first thing you need to do is take care of the victims," he said.
At Aberdeen, he said, they had to seek out all the victims from the scandal. "We decided we were going to interview every female graduate who attended the school for the previous two years."
Trained investigators did all the interviews, gained dozens of statements and found more and more victims. The statements were used to determine who the perpetrators were, and eventually turned those perpetrators over to the legal system to face justice. At the same time, they did everything they could to help the victims.
"Some of these young victims felt they had no way out," Shadley said. One victim even told him, "Sir -- you wouldn't believe the hold the drill sergeants had over us." That's why victims have to be cared for first, he said.
Discoveries from the statements and further investigation were disturbing, Shadley said. But the Army and the DOD as a whole has worked to make things better. Eventually, 12 people were charged with crimes from the Aberdeen scandal. It was found many of those same people also had exhibited similar behaviors in previous assignments. More could have been done to prevent the situation that happened at Aberdeen, he said.
Doing what's right in preventing sexual assault and violence is why Shadley spoke to the post community. Much of the work Shadley and many others did led to what is now known as the Army's SHARP program.
Jamie Cram, garrison SHARP victim advocate (VA) who works at the Army Community Service office of the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said Shadley brought a unique perspective to understanding sexual assault.
Cram noted SHARP is all about cultural change. "At Fort McCoy, we want to provide a safe environment for all who work here," she said.
The SHARP program is designed to prevent the occurrence of sexual harassment and assault, provide victim advocacy to ensure prompt and sensitive care for victims, and encourage reporting of all occurrences by providing reporting options, said Fort McCoy Equal Opportunity Adviser and Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Master Sgt. Matthew Fitzgibbons.
Throughout post and the Army, sexual assault response coordinators (SARC) and VAs like Cram are available. A SARC is considered the center of gravity and single point of contact when it comes to ensuring that victims of sexual assault receive appropriate and responsive care, according to SHARP guidelines.
VAs provide essential support and care to the victim to include providing non-clinical information on available options and resources to assist the victim in making informed decisions as they progress through resolution and healing. The VA maintains communications and contact with victim as needed for continued victim support.
Victims of sexual assault at Fort McCoy can call the post sexual assault hotline at 608-388-5000. They can also call the DOD Safe Helpline at 1-877-995-5247.
For more details about sexual assault awareness and prevention in the DOD and the Army, visit the websites http://www.sapr.mil or http://www.preventsexualassault.army.mil. For more on the SHARP program at Fort McCoy, contact Fitzgibbons at 608-388-3246 or on the DOD Professional Forum: https://www.milsuite.mil/book/groups/fort-mccoy-sharp.