By Lisa Charles, SHARP Program Manager, U.S. Army-HawaiiMay 8, 2015
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Often, victims of sexual assault find returning to their work areas a challenge after reporting a sexual assault, particularly when the alleged offender is in the same unit or has regular contact with the victim's unit.
Other victims feel isolated, being so far away from their support system, so returning to an installation near their families or friends will be the only way they can start the healing process.
There are many ways a victim of sexual assault can start the healing process as they journey from victim to survivor. An "expedited transfer" or "reassignment" is one of them.
Expedited transfers and reassignments are available to Soldiers who opt to file an unrestricted report of sexual assault.
Expedited transfers and reassignments can be a temporary or permanent move to a unit within the same battalion or brigade, to a unit within the same division, to a unit on the same installation or to a unit at a different geographic location. It is offered in the early stages of the report of sexual assault and doesn't have to be accepted immediately by the SHARP client.
Once a SHARP client has requested an expedited transfer, however, the commander (O-5 or higher) has 72 hours to approve or deny the expedited transfer or reassignment request. If the Soldier's expedited transfer is denied by the Soldier's commander, the documentation must be forwarded to the first general officer in the Soldier's chain of command who can override the decision or concur with the denial. Human Resources Command, however, is the final authority.
Primarily, upon knowledge of a sexual assault report, commands must ensure the physical safety of the SHARP client. That being said, the expedited transfer is not intended to address immediate safety concerns.
If a SHARP client feels unsafe, or if the alleged offender works nearby, or if the command sees indicators of retaliation -- to include unit polarization, peer/supervisor reprisal or victim ostracism -- the command must address these matters immediately and create an environment where a SHARP client feels safe.
An alternative for commanders is to move the alleged offender, instead of the SHARP client, to a different work area. Some SHARP clients prefer to maintain some semblance of normalcy, so moving them after a traumatic event can create more trauma, as they have to adapt to a new environment.
When asked about moving to a different work location, many SHARP clients have asked, "Why should I move? I didn't do anything wrong."
While the command may have good intentions when moving a SHARP client to a different workspace, it may not always be in the client's best interest. When in doubt, ask the client if he or she wants to move.
While Soldiers are able to list their preferred locations in an expedited transfer request, those locations are not always guaranteed. Decisions will be made at the HRC level and will take best interests of the Army and the SHARP client into account when making the decision. HRC will do its best to get as close as possible to those locations, but nothing is guaranteed.
Additionally, Soldiers must be willing to extend or re-enlist to meet service requirements if expedited transfer to a different geographic location is approved. Commanders should consult their supporting staff judge advocate and other legal advisers for advice during the approval or disapproval process.
Contact the USARHAW SHARP office or your brigade SARC if you have any questions about the SHARP program, expedited transfers and reassignments.
-- SHARP Hotline
The Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program exists to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assaults before they occur.
To reach the U.S. Army-Hawaii SHARP 24-hour hotline, where credentialed personnel can provide immediate assistance, call (808) 655-9474 or visit the USARHAW SHARP Resource Center, Bldg. 692, 3585 McCornack Road, Schofield Barracks.
To reach the 24/7 DOD Safe Helpline, call toll free to (877) 995-5247.