By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterApril 19, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- With one in three women and one in six men experiencing some form of sexual assault in their lifetime in the U.S. alone, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center website, the fight to end sexual harassment and assault is an ongoing one.
That's why the U.S. Army Warrant Officer Career College is committed to bringing awareness to the cause, and the 1st Warrant Officer Company Class 1809, the Teal Class, is committing it's time to educate the public on sexual harassment and assault, said CW2 William Ortiz, 1st WOC primary TAC officer for Class 1809.
"(The Teal Class) is about raising awareness for the cause," said Ortiz. "In the Army, we talk about resiliency and being physically fit, but we need to emphasize these issues that have been issues in the Army for a while.
"Now it's at the forefront and people talk about it and that is the main way to fighting it," continued the TAC officer. "Raising awareness with the Soldiers is putting it in their minds and showing them that (sexual harassment and assault) is wrong."
The motto for this year's class is "Embrace your Voice," which is meant to empower people to speak up and talk if there is an issue, whether it be harassment in the early stages or assault.
"That's how we start -- you have to speak up," said Ortiz. "Sometimes just a joke that is sexist in nature might be just the beginning, and once you hear that you can speak up about it. You don't have to kill the messenger -- you can just say that it wasn't very nice of them to say something like that -- that's how you begin."
Throughout the month, the class has been taking on the fight against sexual violence with events to bring about awareness, such as a class car wash, which raised nearly $2,000 that was used to create T-shirts for the class. The remainder of the funds was donated to charities to combat sexual assault, said Ortiz.
April 20 at 6 a.m., the class, in conjunction with the Fort Rucker Sexual Harassment and Abuse Response Prevention program, will host a 5K run/1-mile walk to further bring about awareness, and hopes to have a survivor to speak to participants preceding the run.
"Sometimes you have to put a face to the cause," said the TAC officer. "When you see a face, when you see someone who was a victim and survived, that encourages people to speak up or refrain from making sexist jokes or doing things that are wrong in nature."
For many of the Soldiers of the class, this is the first time they have had their hand in bringing awareness to the cause of preventing sexual abuse, but Ortiz said the class has been very receptive.
"Once these Soldiers get here, it's a different environment for them, so they can fully focus and understand when they get SHARP training and see that this is happening in the Army, so they can make the decision to not be part of (the problem)," he said. "This class has been very motivated for the cause and very receptive. They didn't come here to support SHARP, they came here to become a warrant officer, but this class has been in it to win it. We are the Teal Class and we will be the Teal Class -- so far that's what I've seen from the class."
For more information on SHARP, call 255-2382.