This is our Army. It's time to stop pointing the finger at "them" as the status quo, and it's time to stop "passing the buck" when bad things happen. Our Soldiers deserve better and the American people expect more. We are either the solution, or part of the problem.
While it's easy to enjoy the praise that comes with being a member of a respected profession, we must also own the responsibility of fixing the things that need to be fixed. We must be the committed professionals that America expects us to be by taking control of the situation and enforcing discipline.
This is our Army, and there is a war going on across our force right now. The enemy hides among us in the shadows, and all we have to do is fight this using our values, strength of character, and perseverance.
I'm talking about sexual assault and sexual harassment. Sexual assault does more to hurt our readiness than any enemy, because it erodes the foundation of our profession… Trust.
A professional force cannot fight and win wars when the Soldiers doing the fighting can't trust one another. I don't care how many Strykers we have, or how big our cannons are. If the people operating the equipment don't trust the people to their left and right, we will fail. No Soldier should ever have to question if he or she can trust a teammate, or if that teammate would ever harm them.
We don't stand alone, but the enemy wants us to think that we do.
We are strong because our values are strong. We have strength because we stand together. If you wouldn't let someone say or do something to your wife, mother, daughter, husband, son or father, then don't let them do it to your team member. It is really that simple.
This month we will recognize the great work across our formation to combat sexual harassment and sexual assault, but there's still more to be done. Every Soldier, NCO and officer must make a commitment to face this head-on, year round, and without reservation.
The resources available to fight sexual harassment and sexual assault are plentiful. We have the SHARP Resource Center located at the I Corps headquarters. Every brigade has a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator whose sole job is to file reports, assist victims and train the force. There's the chain of command, the military police, the non-commissioned officer support channel, and so much more.
These tools are undoubtedly invaluable, but the fight starts with each one of us as individuals. Our collective awareness of the damage sexual assault does to the strength of our Army cannot end in April.
The stakes are high, but I believe we can win this. It's time for us to take back our Army, and one way to start is to stand with me in April, and keep standing until we stamp out sexual harassment and assault for good. We must all have the courage to say, "Not in my Squad. Not in our Army."