By David Ruderman, U.S. Army Human Resources Command Public AffairsApril 27, 2016
FORT KNOX, Kentucky (April 27, 2015) -- April was a busy month for Sgt. 1st Class Shannon Wyatt, the new manager of U.S. Army Human Resources Command's SHARP, or Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program.
In addition to meeting with senior command leadership as she transitioned into her role, she organized training events, a support run and two of HRC SHARP's marquee annual events, a support motorcycle ride to Silverleaf, the sexual trauma response center in nearby Elizabethtown, and the Denim Day protest against sexual violence.
"When I found out that I was going to be taking over from Master Sgt. Garcia (her predecessor), I was really excited," said Wyatt.
"This is a program that I have watched grow within the Army. The education started out with Power Point slides; that was it, once a year, the annual sexual harassment, sexual assault training. Then they moved it into the sexual harassment, assault response program, and it is a wonderful program," she said.
Wyatt's involvement with SHARP began when she served as a victim advocate in Korea in 2010-2011. She has seen the evolution of SHARP from its infancy through the appointment of sexual assault response coordinators, or SARCs, to its present constellation.
"So I've been with this program and watching it grow and I'm excited to see how it is going to grow even further," she said.
HRC's SHARP program in particular has a strong foundation and is poised to grow in scale and effectiveness moving forward, she said. HRC has become an integral partner in the Fort Knox network of SHARP programs that coordinate training and intervention across the installation, and has built a mutually beneficial partnership with Silverleaf.
Silverleaf offers a range of trauma and advocacy services to Fort Knox community members, anonymously and at no cost, and HRC SHARP and its sister programs provide a steady stream of volunteers to support the center's 24-hour intervention hotline and other services.
"This is not easy business," said HRC deputy chief of staff, Col. Ardis Porter. "But the reality is that we have to deal with it."
Porter attends the monthly Fort Knox Sexual Assault Review Board that draws together SHARP practitioners and leaders from a range of commands on the installation to ensure education and training are on track, and that victims and their loved ones are being properly cared for.
"It has come from a hush-hush conversation to, if it's even mentioned, there is a process and leaders at all levels are engaged, ensuring that there is protection for that individual and that actions are taken to get that person and that family help," said Porter.
"So there is awareness. And that awareness has increased, from headquarters level all the way down to the very small unit level. The communication has come from the senior leaders to every level. And I would tell you that everyone knows that there is just no tolerance for that at all: none whatsoever. We just do not tolerate this in our organization," he said.
SHARP at HRC has already acquired a momentum of its own, a level of participation among Soldiers and support across the command, to continue growing as an effective tool to ensure Army integrity and readiness while protecting individual service members and their families, said Wyatt.
"This program started out with five victim advocates and today we are up to 22. And with every class date we are getting more and more. Of course, Soldiers are PCSing, but this now is the largest number we have had to date of victim advocates, and each one is excited to be in the program, to volunteer and to help. I've never seen so many Soldiers come together and just give that helping hand," she said.
"It's pretty exciting and I'm glad to be a part of it here at HRC," Wyatt said.