By Stephen P. Kretsinger Sr., PQC contractor with the U.S. Army Combined Arms CenterMarch 28, 2016
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (March 28, 2016) -- Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick J. Murphy visited the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Academy here, March 24. Murphy was briefed by senior leaders and spoke with a class of future Victim Advocates (VA) and Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC).
While speaking to the students at the SHARP Academy, Murphy reemphasized Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley's number one priority and explained how the SHARP mission related to it.
"Our focus is readiness," Murphy said. "But how can we be ready to face challenges the world presents if there is not trust within our ranks. We remain personally committed to eliminating sexual assault and harassment from our Army. Such behavior has no place in a disciplined military force. Every Soldier, Army civilian, and Family member deserves to be -- and will be -- treated with dignity and respect."
In the early part of the new millennium, Murphy was a prosecutor who prosecuted sex crimes and understands how tough sexual assault and harassment cases are. He showed his appreciation to the VA and SARC students, who will continue on to deal with those cases first-hand.
"I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart," Murphy said. "Because as you know (sexual assault and harassment) is not just a cancer for the Army, but also with our society. We've had positive results -- reports are going up and incidents are going down -- but still one is too many. The fact that you guys are on the front lines in the Army means a lot to me and it means a lot to our nation, because you guys are really where the rubber meets the road."
Murphy also met with senior leaders to receive a briefing about the current state of SHARP Academy and its near-term plans. The briefing was presented by Col. Geoff Catlett, director of the SHARP Academy and also attended by Lt. Gen. Robert Brown, commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, as well as other top leaders.
"When the SHARP program first started, the training was a lot of 'death by PowerPoint,'" Brown said. "Geoff and his team have done an outstanding job of improving the training Soldiers and Civilians receive on this tough subject."
This same week, The Fort Leavenworth SHARP Program Office and the U.S. Army SHARP Academy presented a training event to Command and General Staff College where survivors of sexual assault in the Armed Services shared their stories.
"We didn't want to present what people say is the typical SHARP training, where we show some slides, and go over definitions and rules of conduct," Catlett said. "We wanted to bring the humanity of the SHARP program -- and the faces of those who were victims -- to these students. We wanted them to hear firsthand what sexual harassment and assault does to our formations."
As part of the trip to Fort Leavenworth, Murphy engaged with students in the Command and General Staff Officer Course, the School of Advanced Military Studies and the Army Management Staff College.