CRANE, Ind. - Protecting Soldiers and Army Civilians is a constant priority for the U.S. Army. Throughout April, designated as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, the Army highlights its focus on stopping sexual assault through community education and awareness about the issue. The month-long program is an essential element of the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention initiative.

As part of SAAPM, Crane Army Ammunition Activity emphasized to its employees the importance of supporting survivors and how preventing sexual assault is everyone's responsibility.

"Sexual assault is like a disease to the U.S. military," Angel Rudd, sexual assault response coordinator for CAAA, said. "Our goal, our vision, is to eradicate it completely out of the Army workforce."

By promoting awareness and education, SAAPM corrects common misbeliefs about sexual violence. One such misbelief is that sexual assault only affects certain members of the military community or that it is only a woman's problem.

"This is not a women's problem," Rudd said. "Many victims of sexual assault in the military are actually men. Unfortunately, men are also far less likely to report being sexually assaulted than women, oftentimes because they are ashamed of being victimized and worry about how the stigma will affect their relationships with their families."

The U.S. Army implemented the SHARP program in 2008, shifting its efforts from response-only to supporting survivors and preventing assaults in the first place. SARC coordinators educate Soldiers and employees about sexual harassment and assault, how to spot it, and what to do if they witness or experience it.

"Sexual harassment is actually discrimination and should be reported to a supervisor or EEO officer," Rudd said. "Even if you weren't harassed yourself, reporting harassment is vital to a safe working environment. Left unchecked, sexual harassment can escalate to sexual assault."

Rudd also stressed the resources available for assault survivors.

"SARC personnel and Victim Advocates are there solely to help the victim," Rudd said. "They are not there to investigate claims or figure out who did what. As SARC, my only priority is to help the victim. If an individual wants to go to the hospital, I escort that person to the hospital and ensure that he or she receives care. If the victim would like to have a forensic exam, I verify a sexual assault forensic examination nurse conducts the exam. I do whatever I can to help the individual take what steps he or she wants to take."

Sexual assault prevention is a year-round endeavor. Crane Army supports the SHARP program by promoting a safe and professional workplace all months of the year and participates in U.S. Army SAAPM events every April.

CAAA commander Col. Michael Garlington signed the Team Crane Pledge to Eliminate Sexual Harassment and Assault within Our Workforce alongside other commanding officers on Naval Support Activity Crane on April 2nd. Soldiers and Civilians were encouraged to sign the Pledge as well. The Pledge underscores the obligation of everyone at Crane to protect each other by speaking up about sexual harassment and taking action if someone is in danger.

In addition to the Pledge, CAAA employees participate in SAAPM events all month long including an awareness run, wearing of certain colors or clothing in support for victims and speaking events.

"Throughout April we have Teal Tuesday and Denim Wednesday," said Rudd. "Teal is the official color of the SHARP initiative, and by wearing teal clothing or teal SHARP ribbons, Crane Army personnel visibly display support for sexual assault survivors and promote awareness. Wearing jeans on Denim Wednesday fights the notion that victims are "asking for it" based on what clothes they wear."

Angel Rudd summarized the message SAAPM month and the entire SHARP initiative convey to sexual assault survivors.

"Victims have options," Rudd said. "They have a voice. There are people and programs in place to help you. You're not alone, and you won't be retaliated against if you speak up.
Don't lose your voice. Use it to build a better culture and a better Army."

Crane Army's mission is to provide conventional munitions support for U.S. Army and Joint Force readiness. It is one of 14 installations of the Joint Munitions Command and one of 23 organic industrial bases under the U.S. Army Materiel Command, which include arsenals, depots, activities and ammunition plants.