FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii-Soldiers with the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command gathered together for a ceremony to highlight the importance of sexual harassment/assault response and prevention all year long.
The Department of Defense recognizes April as national sexual assault awareness and prevention month. The 94th AAMDC leadership stressed the importance of Sea Dragon Soldiers continually working as a team to remain vigilant in maintaining a professional atmosphere where sexual harassment and assault are not tolerated.
"In April we had a ceremony where we tied a teal ribbon around our tree for the entire month," said Master Sgt. Anthony Wyatt, the 94th AAMDC sexual assault response coordinator for the sexual assault response and prevention program and the non-commissioned officer in charge of the 94th AAMDC ready and resilient team. "At the end of the month, we had to take down our ribbons displayed outside of our unit."
The Sea Dragon command decided to take it a step further and promote the awareness of SHARP every day, all year long.
"The 94th AAMDC observed the kick-off of the unit's sexual assault awareness year by hosting a unit ceremony, Sept. 5, 2014, to tie a teal ribbon to the SHARP tree, located in the center quad of the 94th AAMDC headquarters building on Fort Shafter."
"This ceremony was specifically dedicated to all Soldiers past and present," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Sherrie Campbell, the 94th AAMDC SHARP program manager. "It was a clear representation of the 94th AAMDC's stance in unity against any and all offenses of sexual harassment or sexual assault. It also demonstrated that the 94th AAMDC is the "First Line of Defense"--the force behind the fight [against sexual harassment and assault] all year and not just in April. For the Sea Dragons, this fight is indefinite."
The SHARP tree is routinely incorporated as the foundation of all Soldiers' in-processing upon their arrival to the unit.
"This reflects the [commanding general's] intent on keeping sexual harassment and assault prevention first and foremost in everyone's mind over the entire next fiscal year, instead of exclusively during one month," explains Wyatt. "This tree is used for everyone in the unit. All of the new-comers to the unit take time to place a tree branch with their name onto the SHARP tree. This signifies the unity and importance that each service member provides to this unit, and how when united together, they are a greater part of a whole."
The 94th AAMDC SHARP tree holds a much deeper meaning to the Sea Dragons than just a location for new Soldiers to place their names as part of their in-processing check list.
"The SHARP tree is a symbol of family, unity, hope and love," expresses Campbell. "We place the branches on the tree to represent becoming a part of a new family, therefore standing together, rooted and grounded, against any all infractions, and any unseen enemy that may try to attack our family, breaking the fabric of having ready and resilient Soldiers."
The team used this event as a visual reminder to Sea Dragon Soldiers to remain vigilant in the fight against this insider threat.
"SHARP is imperative to keeping our unit ready and resilient," said Campbell. "Here in the 94th AAMDC, we do everything we can to foster an environment that is free of sexual harassment and assault, where Soldiers can flourish as they accomplish their tasks."
"Sexual harassment and sexual assault violates everything the U.S. Army stands for, including our Army values and warrior ethos," emphasizes Wyatt. "The 94th AAMDC aggressively addresses sexual harassment and assaults by first focusing on prevention through education and training."
"We want to ensure the continued existence of an environment that allows Soldiers to feel comfortable to report any infractions to our unit victim advocates or SARC-SHARP so they can do what they need to do to perform their jobs and accomplish their missions, not just as Soldiers, but more importantly as people who work with dignity and respect," shares Campbell.
"Our leaders encourage reporting and work hard to reduce the stigma associated with sexual violence," said Wyatt.
"Once reported, the SHARP program allows us to focus on care for victims, through investigations and prosecutions to hold offenders accountable," said Wyatt. "The 94th AAMDC continually assesses the effectiveness of its sexual harassment/assault response and its prevention efforts to ensure the Army is meeting the needs of the Soldiers, Department of the Army Civilians, Family members and the Nation."
Within the 94th AAMDC, the message is clear.
"The tree stands as a powerful symbol to anyone who views it and its branches--'You are not alone,'" adds Campbell.