By Mr. Eric Pilgrim (Fort Knox news)April 6, 2018
As Army units across the United States plan and coordinate activities focused on Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month throughout April, one Fort Knox employee is letting victims know Fort Knox will go the extra mile for them.
Kristin Bruce, the installation Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Pre-vention program manager, said she has worked at three different installation SHARP programs in various roles.
"This program at Fort Knox is one of the best," said Bruce. "Regarding collaboration and teamwork in getting victims the services they need, this is probably one of the best installations in taking care of victims."
While sexual assaults still occur across the Army, the 2016 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members highlighted a decrease of about 2,100 sexual assaults compared with the survey done two years prior. Survey results noted that the Army was the leader in that downward trend.
The survey also emphasized that reporting is generally thought to promote decreases in assaults.
Bruce said that although Fort Knox doesn't have the military population of many other Army installations, health providers at the installation and surrounding health communities strive to protect victims and encourage them to report assaults.
"We provide all the services that Fort Bragg provides, that Fort Hood provides," she said. "We have 24/7 coverage on an installation hotline phone. We have victim advocates in all the units. We have [sexual assault response coordinators]. We provide services to DA civilians and dependents over 18 [years of age].
"We look at reprisal plans, and we look at retaliation, and we look at bullying, and we look at whether they are being ostracized by the unit," she continued. "We definitely engage with all that."
One area that has changed from years past is where victims go for sexual assault forensic exams, known as SAFE.
Since Ireland Army Health Clinic transitioned from a hospital within the last two years, it is no longer staffed with forensic capabilities. As a result, the clinic has established a memorandum of agreement with Hardin Memorial Hospital to administer the exams. The care coordinator is locking in on same-day medical and behavioral health appointments.
Fort Knox offers behavioral health counseling for victims, but not all victims want to be seen at Fort Knox. Bruce said that's OK, too. One alternative is Silverleaf, a rape crisis center in Elizabethtown that describes itself as a "healing place for those impacted by sexual trauma."
"If the victim ever thinks there's a stigma going to the behavioral health here, we can get them to Silverleaf," she said. "They offer counseling services free of charge to victims of sexual assault. There's options for the victim."
Another area unique to Fort Knox that has been beneficial in helping care for victims is training. Bruce said their efforts to train victim advocates go a long way in caring for victims.
"We ensure the victim advocates and SARCs receive the training so that they know what Fort Knox looks like and what resources are available in the local community," she said. "We're not a typical installation. When I was a victim advocate seven years ago, I never got this."