By Ms. Maria Yager (Army Medicine)April 19, 2018
FORT CAMPBELL. Ky. -- Soldiers and Civilians from Fort Campbell "chalked the walk" in front of Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, recently, with messages of support for those who have experienced sexual assault and sexual harassment.
The event was held in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month activities scheduled throughout the month of April on Fort Campbell. SAAPM is observed annually by the Department of Defense, which is focused on creating an appropriate culture to eliminate sexual assault and requiring a personal commitment from all service members at every level.
"It's Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and I just want to be part of it and provide some art…bring something that I have to the table," said Chalk the Walk participant 1st Lt. Estela Schlund, who drew a man and a woman covered by dark handprints representing the emotional scars that individuals may carry after being sexually assaulted or experiencing harassment.
"The hands are black marks. If you see the figure, the hand marks take away from the figure of the person. Sexual assault or harassment leaves a mark on the person's self-esteem, a mark on the person's persona and the experience. The way that person will see their life will be different, will be transformed, will be affected and I'm giving an awareness in my drawing. This what is what's going on. Even though we don't see it, it's going through their minds and their spirits and their persona," said Schlund, explaining her drawing on the sidewalk. Schlund, who serves as a social worker at Blanchfield, said it's important to have an awareness of about what victims go through.
Throughout the morning, supporters wrote messages and drew art on Blanchfield's front sidewalk for others to see.
"We all have a part in combating sexual assault and SAAPM offers an excellent opportunity to focus attention on our individual roles," said Tonika Rizer, sexual assault response coordinator at Blanchfield. Every Soldier and Department of the Army civilian has a responsibility to prevent sexual assault and harassment.
Individuals can help change the culture by not participating or abiding in obscene gestures, language or behaviors. Sexual harassment and sexual assault is unacceptable and individuals have a responsibility to intervene and condemn these actions. Chalk the Walk messages created by Soldiers and civilians shared a number of ideas and actions that can help change the culture and offered messages of support.
"I think the biggest thing is to believe them. I will ask that anybody, if somebody is coming forward saying they are a victim of sexual assault, to believe them and get them to the services that they need. They may not know how to go about it. There are a lot of resources here on post as well as off post to assist. So, the main thing is knowing who to contact in a timely manner in order to get the person some support," said Rizer.
"We're here to help with resources. If you want to talk we can also do that and then maybe get you into behavioral health if that's the way you want to go. I've had people come in three or four times before they wanted to make a reporting option and that is absolutely fine. We're here to help in anyway and sometimes it takes that extra day or so of talking in order to make a report. And if they never make a report, I'm with them. What they choose is what we'll go with," said Rizer.
Each brigade on Fort Campbell has a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and victim advocate. A division hotline at 270-498- 4319 is available 24-hours a day for individuals who need assistance.