By Maranda FlynnMay 9, 2014
Fort Huachuca's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention, SHARP, office hosted a luncheon May 2 at the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre to wrap up Sexual Assault Awareness Month, or SAAM.
This year's campaign was "Speak Up! A Voice Unheard is an Army Defeated."
Throughout the month, individuals and organizations dedicated to assisting sexual assault victims work to raise awareness about sexual violence, educate communities about prevention against sexual violence, and promote resources that are available to victims.
Three honored guests spoke during the event: Command Sgt. Maj. Julie Guerra, command sergeant major, 309th Military Intelligence Battalion; Col. Jeffrey Jennings, chief of staff, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence; and Jerry Proctor, deputy to the commanding general, USAICoE.
Guerra, who was sexually assaulted 19 years ago at her first duty assignment in the Army, told her story to those in the audience but put strong emphasis on the "pluses" that have come as a result of her experience.
"I am fortunate to be able to give a positive name and voice to something that is such an ugly stain on our service," Guerra said.
While it took many years to be able to speak about the traumatic event, Guerra eventually built up the courage. But it was the positive role that her leadership took immediately after she was assaulted that enables her to educate Soldiers on ways to ensure the problem is addressed within the Armed Forces.
"We have the ability, as leaders in this room, and across the Army, to really set the tone in our organization for how important the [SHARP] program is," Guerra said.
In 2013, Guerra's story was recorded and included in a video that is watched Army-wide during SHARP training events. She regularly speaks at SHARP events, telling her story and giving others the courage to "Speak Up!"
As Jennings addressed the attendees, he spoke about the professional obligations of leadership in the Army. "We acculturate our Soldiers to be better citizens and to follow our rules," he said. "We are the best institution in the United States to address this scourge that is sexual harassment or sexual assault … we are the drivers of change."
He then challenged everyone in the audience to sit down with five leaders in the next 30 days and ensure they fully understand the purpose of the SHARP program.
Following Jennings' speech, Proctor thanked all who were a part of making the luncheon happen and the guest speakers. He then read the National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, 2014 Presidential Proclamation.
The SHARP luncheon culminated a month-long series of events held in honor of SAAM, that included a Walk of Respect, a dunk booth at the Month of the Military Child Fair, a Denim Day, participation in the Rally to End Sexual Violence at Buena High School, and multiple speeches given by survivors of sexual assault or harassment for various organizations around the community.