By Sgt. 1st Class John FreeseApril 11, 2018
Story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class John Freese
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - The 7th Mission Support Command reached out to the Kaiserslautern Military Community to mark several programs celebrated in April.
The Army and broader military programs drawing in focus this month are Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention, the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program and Month of the Military Child.
Team members of the 7th MSC SHARP, ASAP and Family Support Programs partnered with teams from kindred programs of the Air Force and Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz March 28 to staff tables in the food court at the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center. They provided literature and answered questions from interested KMC passersby.
Linda Crosby is the 7th MSC's Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, and staffed the SHARP table. She offered a SHARP perspective in support of unit commanders' efforts to achieve and maintain readiness.
"When everyone is treated with dignity and respect within their units, mission readiness is higher," Crosby said. Sexual harassment and assault incidents can quickly degrade esprit de corps, training participation and therefore readiness, which subsequently detracts from the unit's mission objectives, she added.
Units with strong SHARP awareness programs are better at prevention; but, when incidents do occur, they are better equipped to provide victims the attention, support and advocacy they deserve. That, in turn, is a great enabler of continued mission preparedness, Crosby said.
A cursory glance at data shows an increase in harassment and sexual assault reports, but Crosby said this as an indicator that things are heading in the right direction.
"Individuals are feeling more comfortable about coming forward," Crosby said. While improvements are still needed, there is a greater sense of confidence in the SHARP system (awareness, resources, victim advocacy, the support of SARCs and engaged leaders) that support and protect victims of offenses, she added.
Month of the Military Child
Also staffing a table was Bonnie Jones, from the 7th MSC Family Support Programs office, along with Joshua Merrills who works in FSP as a contractor. Jones echoed Crosby's points, and sees an important connection between unit strength and support of the children in military families.
"Part of the strength is the family," said Jones. "A key part of those families, are the children, and we need to let them know we support and love them."
Jones also shared FSP circulated information stressing the importance of understanding the challenges that children of military parents face. Frequent moves between military stations can be hard on kids who also experience a change of schools, friends, sports teams and studies. Also, children must endure periodic absences from their service member parents who deploy or train away from home for extended periods. These are just some of the challenges military connected kids face that most non-military kids do not.
Cynthia Foster, 7th MSC ASAP coordinator, focused on alcohol awareness at her table.
Foster encouraged visitors to participate in a 72-hour period of alcohol abstinence that coincided with the upcoming holiday weekend. A break from alcohol like this can build awareness about how a big a part alcohol comes to play in our lives, especially when we get together with friends and family during the holidays.
In fact, keeping alcohol consumption in check is healthy, Foster said. The Mayo Clinic Healthy Lifestyle webpage advocates keeping alcohol levels moderate to help in the reduction of risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and overall liver health. Guidance on daily consumption rates include one of the following: 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, such as whiskey or brandy.
The ASAP theme this month is "Changing Attitudes: It's not a rite of passage." Foster said the goal is to raise awareness about alcohol use on individuals and families. Individuals that find this challenge difficult may want to talk with a health care professional.