JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- The U.S. Army Medical Command takes the prevention and management of sexual assault and sexual harassment very seriously. One way it demonstrates its dedication is by ensuring regional health command program managers, sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates properly understand how to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment and support victims. Ultimately, the summit helps the medical readiness of Soldiers.

The first MEDCOM SHARP Summit for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment/Assault for Regional Health Command Program Managers, Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Victim Advocates took place April 20-22 in San Antonio, Texas with more than 40 personnel in attendance. The event provided skill-based training opportunities for expanding skills in working with and helping those harmed by crimes and crisis. Subject matter experts addressed MEDCOM SHARP updates, special victims, gender violence prevention and root causes, and supporting sexual assault victims, among other topics.

The summit also provided an opportunity for networking and exchanging information and best practices.

"It broadens my horizon on what is happening at my installation and globally," Sandra Combs, SARC at Reynolds Army Community Hospital, Fort Sill, Okla., commented. "It gives us great networking resources as far as what to do. The studies show we need to change our own perspectives. It takes each of us to do that to help stop harassment and prevent it from escalating."

The key messages of the event focused on self-care, self-awareness and leadership support.

"The summit reminds us to be mindful of caring for ourselves as we support sexual assault patients through the healing process," said Brig. Gen. Scott Dingle, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, U.S. Army Medical Command. He added, "It enforces and reinforces bearings which consist of self-awareness (emotional, spiritual, physical) on a daily basis. Also, leaders are engaged and fully supporting the program."

SARCs and VAs are required to be recertified every two years with at least 32 Continuing Education Units. The summit provided more than 15 units to be used toward the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program. SARCs and VAs receive training online, and training is available through annual conferences from national organizations and the MEDCOM SHARP Program Office.

"MEDCOM SHARP Regional PMs and SARCs/VAs take the valuable information that they have learned and apply best practices in their SHARP processes in the MTF," said Dingle.

MEDCOM's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Program Office has dual responsibility for the management, policy/regulatory guidance and oversight for the provision of medical care for sexual assault victims, and the prevention and response of sexual harassment/ assault in support of MEDCOM Soldiers, civilians and eligible Family members.