YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea -- More than 100 Soldiers and Civilians from Eighth Army and the Yongsan Garrison gathered to kick off Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month with a ceremony at South Post Chapel April 4.
The theme for the ceremony was "Eliminate Sexual Assault: Know Your Part and Do Your Part."
Eighth Army Deputy Commanding General for Sustainment, Maj. Gen. David Puster, said eliminating sexual assault starts with confronting other areas of misconduct like underage drinking and fraternization.
"It starts with taking back our barracks," Puster said. "It starts with setting, enforcing and living the standards of our profession. Sexual assault degrades our mission readiness and removes Soldiers from the fight."
Command Sgt. Maj. Julie A. M. Guerra, 501st Military Intelligence Brigade, said the SHARP program was designed to educate Soldiers about the impacts of sexual harassment and assault on the victims and ensure they know how to deal with it.
"It is really important to assist the potential victim before they become one," said Guerra. "In order to do that, we have to be ready to step in at any moment that we think is inappropriate, and be aware of the procedures to report sexual harassment and assault."
Guerra said the main reason people commit sexual harassment and assault is because most of them think that they can get away with it.
"When we notice inappropriate moments, having (the) courage to intervene from the beginning and let them be aware of the seriousness of what they have done wrong can actually decrease a lot of sexual harassment and assault and prevent it from becoming a bigger problem later on," said Guerra.
Guerra added that this includes not tolerating obscene gestures, language, or behavior and acknowledging the duty to stand up as a Soldier, no matter the time or place.
After the ceremony, 1st Lt. Kowzan Ryan, 41st Signal Brigade, said the gathering was good because some of those who contributed to the conversation shared personal stories of sexual harassment or assault incidents.
"Things don't build up overnight. It is often a small deviation that eventually snowballs into the big problem," said Ryan of what he learned from those who spoke. "In that sense, it could be really helpful to decrease the number of sexual harassment and assault (incidents) if we actively try to stick to Army values."
This ceremony was only the first event to help raise awareness throughout the Yongsan community.
Upcoming SAAPM events for Area II include SHARP awareness booths at the Post Exchange from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays throughout the month; Hooping for SHARP Basketball Tournament from 9 a.m. to noon at Collier Fitness Center Apr. 16; SHARP Zumba Physical Readiness Training and Denim Day at Picnic Area 7 Apr. 19 and a SHARP Bowling Tournament from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Yongsan Bowling Alley Apr. 21.