For the past 10 years, Dr. Julie Lindahl has made it her mission to stand up for those who have been sexually harassed or assaulted in the workplace.
But she needs the help of others -- of employees in the workplace who may see or hear about co-workers experiencing sexual harassment or assault -- to fully integrate the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program within the civilian working environment.
And she's got the backing of the Army, Redstone Arsenal and her employer, the Space and Missile Defense Command, to make it happen.
As the Army grows its SHARP program from being primarily Soldier focused to a program that's inclusive of Army civilians, contractors, retirees and their families, it is looking to heavily civilian populations within its organizations to adapt SHARP into a civilian employee program. For that reason, Redstone Arsenal and its Army organizations led by the Army Materiel Command are at the forefront of a cultural change in the civilian workplace.
SHARP Hotline: 924-0795
"We are broadening the spectrum for SHARP," said Jennifer Blatter, the AMC Sexual Assault Response Program coordinator and the lead Sexual Assault Response Program coordinator for Redstone Arsenal.
"AMC is 96 percent civilian and there are more than 38,000 civilians working on Redstone Arsenal. AMC and Redstone Arsenal are leading the way in working with civilians in preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault. We are leading the way in expanding a Soldier program to the civilian workforce."
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. The designation is recognized by the Army with sexual harassment/assault prevention programs conducted at its installations. At Redstone Arsenal, all employees are invited to participate in the following activities:
• Team Redstone Kickoff of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month -- Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Sparkman Parade Field between buildings 5303 and 5304. Kickoff will include vendors, emergency service static displays, a ceremony where a proclamation will be read, and food truck and FMWR food service.
• Green Dot Training -- April 21 and 22 at Toftoy Hall, sponsored by the Security Assistance Command. Sixty-minute classes will present the Green Dot Strategy of bystander intervention to reduce and eventually stop sexual assault. The training will present simple proactive and reactive techniques that can be used by anyone to eliminate sexual violence in the community.
• Safety Health and Environmental (SHE) Day Run -- April 22 at NASA Wellness Center, building 4315. Flat, fast course for individuals or teams. Fleet Feet gift certificates will be presented to the top three age group finishers. Event includes live music and door prizes. Signup ends April 17.
• Teal for Awareness -- Team Redstone employees are asked to wear the color teal on Tuesdays during April in support of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
April's activities, which will also include programs hosted within Redstone's organizations, will emphasize the theme "Know Your Part, Do Your Part." Those activities serve to launch a year's worth of programs that will continually emphasize the sexual harassment/assault prevention message.
Lindahl, a SHARP program manager for SMDC, is a forensic psychologist who has worked with victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault in both the private sector and the military. She is one of many Redstone Arsenal employees who have stepped up to increase awareness of sexual harassment/assault prevention within the civilian workforce, and who advocate for victims of sexual harassment and assault.
"I've made it my mission to work with the military because our service members deserve to have someone who wants to provide them with support if they become a victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault," she said.
"I've been a victim advocate, a Sexual Assault Response Program coordinator, and now a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program manager. I've wanted to be one of those staff members who has the field experience to know how to give back to this program. I am mentoring, coaching and providing guidance to victim advocates based on my own work with hundreds of victims."
Volunteering to serve as a victim advocate in support of an organization's SHARP program requires a commitment that goes beyond the professional environment. With their employer's permission, victim advocates become certified through a two-week course and then are allowed to spend up to 20 percent of their work week focused on SHARP responsibilities. Often, those advocates will commit their own personal time to support victims, including providing support of the seven-day-a-week, 24-hour SHARP crisis hotline.
That kind of commitment didn't scare away volunteers like Odri Hastings, who works in the Aviation and Missile Command's Logistics Center and who is a 23-year Army veteran.
"I wanted to get involved because it was the right thing to do. This is a very important program for the Army in the civilian world," said Hastings, a victim advocate.
Each Army organization on Redstone is required to have a SHARP program manager, who facilitates a year-round program to ensure all employees are aware of the problems associated with sexual harassment/assault in the workplace, and how to prevent it and report it. They also provide support for the sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates within their organization.
"This program doesn't work without the entire team," said AMCOM SHARP program manager Eugene Roberts, whose 24-year Army career involved implementing SHARP programs within Soldier units.
"We work together to make sure the message is getting out to our employees, and to ensure employees know what to do if they need help in preventing and stopping sexual harassment and assault."
SHARP team members said compassion, listening skills and counseling skills are all essential to providing effective support to the employee workforce so that they understand how to prevent sexual harassment/assault in the workplace, and to the victims of sexual harassment or assault.
"This is not just about doing a job. It's about taking care of people and preventing this from happening in the workplace," said Sgt. Maj. Bruce Williams, AMC's SHARP program manager.
"And it's about following Army policies and guidance so that we can show we have trust, dignity and respect throughout our entire workforce."
How employees and Soldiers are treated, and especially how the Army as an organization works to prevent and address sexual harassment/assault in the workplace, drastically affects the Army's recruiting abilities and its reputation, Williams said.
"It's important that we are taking care of our own people," he said.
With sexual harassment/assault making national headlines over and over again, the issue is a societal problem that must be addressed by any organization that wants to remain reputable among its workforce, added Master Sgt. John Spaulding of Fox Army Health Center.
"Sexual harassment/assault awareness and prevention is a number one priority in the Army," he said.
"This is a very important issue on the national level and it's been on the Army radar for some time. No one is immune. It must be addressed at all levels of command. We have to change the culture, and employees need to know that if they see something they need to report it. The only way we can change this culture is by reporting what is happening so that it can be addressed and resolved."
And, for those who become victims of sexual harassment/assault in the workplace, the victim advocate is for them the caring and concerned Army advocate that listens and then provides support no matter the circumstances, said SHARP program manager Lindahl.
"The most important thing we're here for is we are here for you," she said. "We're here to listen and we believe in you. You matter and that's really the message."
Editor's note: For more information on the Army's SHARP program, visit www.army.mil/sharp. Redstone Arsenal's SHARP program coordinates its efforts closely with the community's Crisis Services of North Alabama, www.csna.org, 716-1000 or 1-800-691-8426. For those who want to volunteer as a victim advocate, contact Jennifer Blatter at 450-7803 or firstname.lastname@example.org for information on the process. To report sexual harassment or assault, contact your organization's SHARP representative or call the SHARP Hotline at 924-0795. Call 911 in an emergency situation.